24 Mar, 2016
‘Kala Pola’ 2016 – another successful celebration of Art!
Kala Pola – Sri Lanka’s annual open-air art fair – turned Colombo into a riot of colour for the 23rd time, shining a spotlight on a variety of visual artists of Sri Lanka. Organized by The George Keyt Foundation and the John Keells Group, Kala Pola 2016 took place on Sunday, 31st January 2016. A total of 308 registered artists and over 22,000 estimated visitors flocked into Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha, Colombo 07 which was adorned with a variety of art ranging from breath-taking paintings and life-like portraits to abstract art and intricate sculptures.
Gracing the official ceremony as Chief Guest was H.E. Dr. Jürgen Morhard, the German Ambassador for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The Chairman and Trustees of The George Keyt Foundation and The Chairman of John Keells Holdings PLC, Mr. Susantha Ratnayake, together with a large number of art patrons and invitees.
Addressing the gathering, Chief Guest, H. E. Dr. Jürgen Morhard said “It’s always impressive for us to see and witness that Sri Lanka is not only rich in nature and its wonderful people, but is also rich when it comes to creativity.” Ambassador Morhard expressed his appreciation of the impact of Kala Pola by stating, “Sri Lanka at the moment is a fast growing country…… But there is something beyond economic controls. What a city which wants to attract international tourism needs is a `soul’. The `soul of a city’ comes from its creative side, it comes from artists… All those who are here, the sponsors, all those who are putting up stalls, thank you! You are changing the city with this activity and you are making a difference in Sri Lanka.”
Cedric De Silva, Chairman of The George Keyt Foundation, said that the Foundation’s core objective has been enabling opportunity for art, especially for aspiring artists, “This year too Kala Pola caught the attention of many artists and art-loving public, enabling a platform to appreciate and exchange works of art. We estimate that this event has generated over Rs. 13 million in sales, excluding what might have been commissioned by potential buyers. Our sincere thanks to John Keells Holdings and the John Keells Foundation for their commitment towards making this event a continued success for the artists and the art-loving public of Sri Lanka over the past two decades.”
John Keells Holdings’ Head of CSR, Ms. Nadija Tambiah said, “The 23rd Anniversary of Kala Pola is the 22nd consecutive year where the John Keells Group has been sole sponsors and organisers. We are thrilled to see the unprecedented number of visitors and art sales. We are enormously encouraged by the continuing success of this event in achieving our objective of empowering Sri Lankan artists by providing a platform for talented painters and sculptors to market their art, enabling not only the promotion of their career but an appreciation and patronage of art among the public. It is encouraging to see art lovers, whether students, patrons, collectors, designers or general public from various parts of the country visiting Kala Pola, truly highlighting the reach and significance of this event in inspiring the promotion and appreciation of art. We also wish to acknowledge the active support of the media that would have no doubt contributed to the growing success of Kala Pola.”
Kala Pola 2016 also included a Kids’ Art Corner organized by John Keells Group subsidiary, Ceylon Cold Stores PLC, drawing 184 children who expressed themselves in art and were rewarded with a certificate and refreshments courtesy of Elephant House and art equipment sponsored by Sakura Agency. This year the Kids’ Art Corner was aided by teachers of the Cora Abraham Art School while children from “The Dream” – the Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy – also showcased their art work at Kala Pola.
The evening segment of Kala Pola, included entertainment and lively performances by the acclaimed Ravibandhu Vidyapathi Drum Ensemble and Music Matters Collective with their innovative blend of jazz and experimental fusion. Students of Music Matters Collective also performed during the afternoon.
Kala Pola 2016 was supported by an enthusiastic and dedicated team of staff volunteers from across the John Keells Group who assisted artists and visitors, manned the help desk and operated the Kids’ Art Corner. A total of 91 staff volunteers worked in teams tirelessly throughout the day. Kala Pola Volunteer, Amie Peiris said, “I have always had an interest in Art, so volunteering for Kala Pola was a really enjoyable experience. I loved speaking to the Artists – each one of them had a unique story to tell! I felt really proud to have been a part of something that enabled their work to be showcased.”
John Keells Volunteers also helped artists at Kala Pola to register on www.srilankanartgallery.com, which is Sri Lanka’s first and only corporate digital art gallery. The website which is designed, maintained and hosted by John Keells Foundation – the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) entity of the John Keells Group – under its focus area of Arts and Culture, enables Sri Lankan artists to showcase and market their work throughout the year to local and foreign buyers.
Kala Pola takes place in January each year and artists interested in participating can contact The George Keyt Foundation or John Keells Foundation.