Category Archives: education

Iranganie Serasinghe: Actress and Environmental Activist

Prasanna Cooray, in Island, 18 June 2017,  with the title “Irangani: Mother figure of Sinhala Cinema and Environmental Activism””

Irangani Serasinghe needs no introduction in this country. She is convinced that as for the destruction of our environment politicians have to take the blame. She says, “The worst ar e the politicians. We have to protect our trees and environment mostly from them”, said Irangani Serasinghe. At 90, yet agile and full of vigour, she has fought man a battle, tooth and nail, on the environment front for decades.

On June 3, she chaired the seminar under the theme, “Destruction of central hills – Death of future of the country” held at Mahaweli Center in Colombo where I was one of the speakers. The seminar brought to light the environmental destruction and misery brought to the lives of the people in Welimada plain by the ongoing Uma Oya multipurpose development project. There she told me she would be 90 in a few days. On June 9 Irangani celebrated her 90th birthday. Continue reading

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Recovering Lionel Wendt’s Virtuosity

Manel Fonseka, in The Sunday Times, 18 June 2017, where the title runs “Lionel Wendt: Recovery and dispersal””

When I first wrote about Lionel Wendt in 1994, the person and the artist seemed to be almost forgotten. Few visitors to the popular theatre and art gallery that bear his name had any idea who he was or were even curious about him. He had become like a personality behind a well-worn street name, familiar but unknown. It was as if he had disappeared along with his house, ‘Alborada’ (‘morning-song’ in Spanish) when the latter was demolished in 1950 for the present Wendt Memorial complex.

Adventure in Space, n.d, Courtesy LWMF

His memory was retained almost solely perhaps by those who possessed a copy of that beautiful book Lionel Wendt’s Ceylon. Underwritten by his friend Harold Peiris and published by Lincoln-Prager, London in 1950 for the Lionel Wendt Memorial Fund (LWMF) it has now become a collector’s item. It was planned when Wendt’s younger brother Harry Wendt was still alive, and was to be the first of three volumes of photographs. Five thousand copies were published. However, the book did not sell easily and subsequent volumes were abandoned.

The search for Wendt
My own search for Lionel Wendt came about quite by accident. In 1993 I began to work on an article in connection with the 50th anniversary (August 29, 1993) of the founding of the `43 Group in Lionel Wendt’s house. It struck me that outside the Sapumal Foundation there was no sizeable (or publicly accessible) collection of the work of these artists. My husband had told me how much his own interest in modern art was inspired and influenced during his schooldays by the paintings that used to hang in the foyer of the Wendt theatre. But I had never seen them – or, at least, noticed them. They were part of an impressive collection built up by Lionel Wendt, left to his brother Harry and then to Harold Peiris, who gave it to the Fund. A passing reference in Neville Weereratne’s book (The `43 Group: A Chronicle of Fifty Years in the Art of Sri Lanka, 1993) to the decision in 1963 to sell these paintings, put paid to my article by launching me on a journey to discover the ‘lost’ collection instead. Continue reading

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Royal College ……. Ehema Thammai !!

ALSO SEE hHugh Karunanayake: How Royal helped spawn S. Thomas College,”  18 Aoril 2016,

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June 20, 2017 · 11:33 am

From Mountain Village to Neurologist in Melbourne

Tissa Wijeratne, … … where the title is “The Journey of One Neurologist from Sri Lanka to Melbourne”

Born and raised in what I describe as “the jungle,” my life started in one of the remotest parts of Sri Lanka: a village called Kirioruwa-Bandarawela in the central mountainous area. Electricity, hot water, television, and telephone were all miles away from us at the time. I fondly recall days spent reading in the shade of a tree in the rice fields that surrounded my family home — the place where sky and earth met, almost kissing each other daily. The mountains were covered with a layer of lush tea bushes. Our home sat on the top of one of these mountains.

 Tissa Wijeratne, MD (right), with one of his mentors from his time as a student in Sri Lanka. Continue reading

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Ivan Samarawickrama: A Man for All Seasons

Wilfred Jayasuriya

Ivan died in his sleep at the age of 95 a couple of days ago. He was buried that very day, according to his wishes, by his sons, Anil, Malik and Lalin. His wife Nellie died a decade ago. In his day, Ivan was one of the best known and best loved public figures in the country. He was a “public servant,” as understood by that description in the English language, in the context of the recent history of Ceylon / Sri Lanka.

He had very clear-cut chiselled features and moved about with grace. In his University College days he was a quarter miler (400 metres, which was a test of both speed and stamina) and held the Ceylon national record for that athletic distance.

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Sinhala at Cornell under Threat of Guillotine! A Protest

Malinda Seneviratne, in The Island, 7 May 2017, where the title reads Save the Sinhala Program at Cornell University”

Deepthi Kumara Gunaratne once alleged that I never studied at Harvard University.  He said that I might have been eating hoppers in some boutique somewhere near Harvard, at best.  He was essentially claiming that I had learned nothing at Harvard.  Someone else asked me once what I had brought back from Harvard and I said ‘Harvard was too big to carry back to Sri Lanka,’ and, after a pause, added, ‘Harvard was too small too.’  Not true, strictly speaking, but I was using a broad brush and alluding to alleged superiority of certain knowledge systems, just like Deepthi.  Big or small the institution, big or small the individual, we leave something behind and we take away something too.  True of Harvard and true of Cornell University.

 Jim Gair at work  Cornell Uni Continue reading

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The Deep Imprint of Prabhakaran’s Thamililam: Kilinochchi in May 2009

Sinharaja Tammita-Delgoda, being an article published in The Island on 17 May 2009 and thereafter in 2010 by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies –with the title “Letters on a Blackboard – A Lost Generation” … being a review is based on the author’s personal impressions and experience of the last Eelam War. Much of the material was gathered during the course of the author’s visits to the war zone between 19 March and 27 April 2009,

52-chicago_maaveerar_naal_usa1_21081_435    The entrance to Kilinochchi Maha Vidyalayam (Kilinochchi High School) is dominated by a large map. Although it is actually a map of Sri Lanka, most of it is blank. One section however, is clear and sharply defined in bright red. Stretching all the way down from the top, it occupies the entire north of the island, snaking down on either side. On the west coast it touches the outskirts of the capital Colombo; on the east, it reaches right down to the deep south. All in all, the red areas encompass more than one third of the entire landmass and almost two thirds of the coastline. Continue reading

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