jump to navigation

Cedric Arnold November 29, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Sri Lanka.

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.”