Carving it up in Hikkaduwa

Update and reflection of project 30/03/2018

Week 6

This collaborative art project has not only worked from an artistic prospective, but also on a personal level. The connections made with the people in Sri Lanka, particularly those I worked with on a daily bases has left a lasting impression and given me a real insight into the their thoughts and lives.  This particular project was undertaken in over six weeks working with Sri Lankan woodcarver Nalin Nalinda to create a series of wood carved objects copied from washed up plastic objects found on the beach.

The complete installation was exhibited as part of the Moving Out exhibition at Sunbeach Hotel in Hikkaduwa on the 24th March 2018 and will be exhibited in Scotland in 2018 as part of the Residency exhibition.

week 2

The wood carving project is progressing really well now. I have been working with Nalin for nearly two weeks and we are becoming good friends; he has a mad side to his personality which I can easily relate to! One of the main aims of this collaborative project was to exchange ideas and skills. Watching Nalin carve is a delight. He has a really good eye and has been careful to copy the plastic objects that I found washed up on the beach to perfection.

Nalin starting work on first carving challenge

We worked together all day yesterday with the rain lashing down outside and rattling on his shop’s steel roof. It was really amazing to see the dramatic change in the skies as the clouds swept in from the ocean. By the end of the day we were both pretty tired, partly due to the change in weather and the fact that we had carved for nearly seven hours in the heat. As I was about to leave he said that he had learnt so much from working with me and would never have imagined himself making carvings like this before. I replied and said that I too had learnt so much from working and spending time with him. I smiled inwardly, delighted that we had made this connection so quickly through our shared love of craftsmanship and that he was gaining equally out of the project.

We have visited other wood carvers in the area and spent several hours looking in the beautiful galleries in Galle, the large town near Hikkaduwa; even allowing ourselves time out to saviour a delicious lunch in the very elegant Maison de Raux Hotel – best iced coffee I’ve tasted in years!

Traditional carving – amazing detail.

The aim is still to make upto ten carvings which will be exhibited alongside the plastic objects. It will be difficult as each one can take several days to finish, but fingers crossed we have enough time. I’m still debating in my mind how this will work, but early thoughts are to have two circles on the floor of the gallery; one of the carved sculptures and one of the plastic objects found on the beach.

Kaduru [Balsa wood] carving of plastic container

Three objects carved in Jack wood and Kaduru

My wife Susan emailed me a picture of an island of floating plastic bottles and waste out in the Ocean that was on the news back home. Perhaps this would be a good reference for the final shape of the installation and help draw parallels to the growing awareness of the damage being done to the delicate ecological balance of the world’s oceans.