Thursday, June 11, 2009

ELOQUENCE IN STONE - A Review by Kishanie Fernando, Daily Mirror, 17 November 2008

Review by Kishani Fernando
In 475 pages, 465 black and white, infra-red and colour photographs, a unique photographic essay tells the story of the lithic saga of Sri Lanka, traveling through some two and a half millennia of Sri Lanka’s history telling the story of a people, their beginnings, their beliefs, their kingdoms and their declines and regeneration.
About 12x12x3 inches, glossary, bibliography, maps included and weighing some 2 ½ kilos, the book titled ‘Eloquence in Stone’ cannot be estimated in monies worth by the lover of good books.
The book is the outcome of extraordinary perseverance of a team of professionals including Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda, Anu Weerasuriya, Christopher Silva, Luxshmanan Nadaraja, Devaka Seneviratne, Roshan Perret, guided by no less than the icon of Sri Lankan photography Nihal Fernando. Nihal who was one time a man of tremendous energy and perseverance and the owner of Studio Times, now having reached the grand eighties, takes backstage watching those whom he inspired carry forward his loves, hopes, dreams. It is his vision that is reflected in the pages of the book.
“When the book was complete I went and presented it to Thathi” said the charming Anu, Nihal Fernando’s daughter who now runs Studio Times having inherited her father’s love for the country. It is undoubtedly her energy and effort supported by her enthusiastic photographer husband Christopher Silva that has put the book together. “We made him sit at the table and kept the book in front of him,” she continued and he said, “It is the best book we have done so far,” Anu told me proudly.
I recalled some months ago that Anu had said that this book was the dream of her father. She also told me that it had taken fifteen years or more to record this story they wanted to tell with their cameras. Travelling unknown road, climbing scorching rocks under the blazing sun or soaking rain, crossing streams, exploring elephant infested jungles and most of all walking … walking … walking endless miles carrying with them their photographic equipment and other needs. One objective seem to have driven them: to document abandoned sites of pre-historic and historic value, sites of spell binding beauty where nature was at its most charming best, with the intention of preserving them for future Sri Lanka. The team at all times taking head to tread gently on earth inspired by the dream of their leader: “… I want to make people think about our past and what they are doing to it before it is too late.”




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