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Jagath Dheerasekara November 21, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sri Lanka.
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Rosarians,Ragama, Sri Lanka, 2008

Jagath Dheerasekara (b. 1965, Sri Lanka) is an Amnesty International Human Rights Innovation Fund Grant recipient for the Manuwangku: Under the Nuclear Cloud project. His activism led to his exile in France as a political refugee. He returned to Sri Lanka in the mid 1990’s after regime change. On returning home, Jagath began a career in telecommunications and involvement in photography. His work has been published in: Artlink, the South Asia Journal for Culture, PIX Photography Quarterly and Time Machine Magazine. In Australia his photography and is mainly about Aboriginal and refugee rights. Jagath lives in Sydney.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is of the Sunday morning congregation at the Sister’s section at the Rosarian Convent chapel in Ragama, Sri Lanka. Men are not normally allowed within the inner premises and can have access only up to the parlor, the kitchen store or the section of lay persons of the chapel. Sisters maintain minimum contacts with outside. At the first visit, after a lengthy chat with the Sister Superior I was permitted to go in and photograph the chapel area dedicated only to sisters. The Nun’s lives are a daily routine done in silence, with the least verbal engagement, in reverential service to God. The routine is filled with engagement in cottage industries such as candle, syrup and jam making, cultivation and animal husbandry which provides financial support to the convent as well as providing a service to the community. Established in 1928, the Rosarians were the first entirely Christian congregation not only in Sri Lanka but also in Asia. The Rosarian order of nuns subsequently was established in 1950.”

“When I made a request to photograph their life and the space they live in I was not optimistic about it. A few weeks later came a positive response. It was a novel experience for the sisters to have a man of Buddhist background taking an interest in their Christian way of life. As friendship grew I was warmly welcomed into their space, including the offer of pure vegetarian meals as it was my food preference. The photographing intertwined with many a discussions along themes of renunciation, loving kindness, reincarnation, greed, hatred and delusion, creation and heaven, some of which are common and other exclusive to Christianity and Buddhism.”

Cedric Arnold November 29, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sri Lanka.
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Helga de Silva Pereira Blow. Owner of Helga’s Folly Hotel. Kandy, Sri Lanka 2011

Cedric Arnold (b. 1976, France) took up photography and film making while studying history at the University of Paris. After graduating, he began his photography career in 1999 in London and Belfast, joining the Sygma agency. He moved to Asia in 2001 and is currently splitting his time between Bangkok and London. Cedric’s work has been published in The New York Times, Sunday Times Magazine, Stern, Time, Newsweek, Financial Times and many others. Cedric is represented by Novus Select in the New York and Luz Photo in Milan. In 2011 Cedric’s personal project ‘Sacred Ink’, an in-depth photographic study of Thailand’s traditional tattoo culture; was launched in Bangkok with a major photographic and multimedia exhibition. The project has since been featured in the Sunday Times Magazine’s as well as in Newsweek and art publications.

About the Photograph:

“On a break from an assignment, I stayed at the wildly eccentric ‘anti-hotel’, Helga’s Folly in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The owner, Helga de Silva Pereira Blow, is one of those people you know you must photograph as soon as you meet them, someone who not only looks extraordinary but also has fascinating stories to tell. She describes herself as such: “I grew up in a world of colonial tea pots, Hollywood gossip and Marxist revolutions”.  After a tour of the huge family home-cum-hotel, with its wild murals on the walls and ceilings, family pictures everywhere, and a mad mix of furniture, we sat down for a chat, about her intriguing family and personal history, fancy dress and dinner parties and photographers she’s encountered over the years, including Henri Cartier Bresson. Helga, who was celebrated in British rock band Stereophonic’s 2003 hit single “Madame Helga” loves to recount her fabulous stories.

“We set up a portrait session for the next morning. She turned up fashionably late wearing huge vintage 1970s sunglasses, a hat designed by famed British hat maker Philip Treacy, complete with feather. Her dress was a modern take on a traditional hand-woven sari; with a huge collar in the style of 101 Dalmatians character Cruella. The whole portrait session was done while Helga recounted tales from her fascinating life.”

Masaru Goto July 27, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sri Lanka.
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Masaru Goto (b.1966, Japan) photographs social and human rights issues in Asia and South America. In 2002, he won the Fifty Crows Foundation award for his photos essay on “Got rights? Human Rights in Colombia”. His images of Kashmir received “The Ueno Hikoma Award”, also images of HIV/AIDS in Cambodia won two of the category, “LOVE” and “ILLNESS” for “the River of Life” (WHO) International photo competition. And 2005, he received “The Grand Prize” for his book “Smile in Despair: Stories from a Cambodian AIDS ward” from Sagamihara city in Japan. He has published “Smile in Despair: Stories from a Cambodian AIDS ward”(Mekong Publishing/Tokyo 2005), “Between Worlds: Twenty Years on the Border “(TBBC/Bangkok 2004), “My Journal in Cambodia” (Mekong Publishing/Tokyo 1999).

About the Photograph:

“I visited  a village where many war widows live in Southern Sri Lanka. I met this sister, both were married with government soldiers, and both of them lost their husband by war. Widows were still young. I asked them if they want to get married again, they simply said no, because they still love their husband. Sri Lankan civil war ended in May 2009. I decided to visit because I wanted to see the aftermath. Over 25 years, 80,000 people were killed and thousands more disappeared. War is over, but there are unknown numbers of war wounded, widows, orphans and war-affected children living silently all over the country. Victims become invisible to the rest of the world and they suffer their war scars alone”

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