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‘Destination Sri Lanka 2018’: An artist’s impression of combining travel and art

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  • Exhibition by artist and photojournalist Prasad Abu Bakr make comeback after 18 years

An exhibition by artist and photojournalist Prasad Abu Bakr, ‘Destination Sri Lanka,’ is making its comeback after 18 years

This time the show is going to be more an artistic impression than a mere exhibition of photographs, as it was during its first showing way back in 2001.

“This time around it will be a collection of my collages featuring various hotel properties and local places of interest to travellers,” said Prasad, the artist behind this novel project. 

The artist who was an ardent traveller during those times working as a travel journalist covering many aspects of the hospitality industry, focusing upon hotelier personality sketches and culinary – inclusive of recipes and chefs career briefs, publishing those stories in the magazine he was working for at the time. 

It was during that period Prasad was advised by some of the leading hoteliers to do an exhibition of his large selection of photographs lying in his possession, featuring various hotel properties he stayed at, including pictures captured by him of those surrounding places of interest, both of historical plus scenic value and brand the event with a title in order to attract local travellers to venture out and travel more regularly. This in return would make the exhibition a promotional vehicle at encouraging locals to travel as a mean of support to the sagging travel industry at that time, owing to poor arrivals of tourist to the country as the result of the war which prevailed.

Prasad who gave the suggestion a second thought subsequently was able to make it happen as a fully-fledged photography exhibition with the unstinted support of many hoteliers. Amongst the hotels that were featured and participated as sponsors were Lighthouse – Galle, Blue Water – Wadduwa, Taj Exotica – Bentota,  The Mount Lavinia Hotel, Le Kandyan – Kandy, Earl’s Regency – Kandy, Hotel Thilanka – Kandy, Culture Club – Dambulla, Sigiriya Village – Sigiriya and Nuwara Wewa Rest House – Anuradhapura.

Besides featuring the interior and exterior views of these hotels, Prasad also featured locations – both of scenic and historical value situated in those areas where the hotels were situated, featuring altogether a total number of over 100 photographs in the exhibition which was held at the Lionel Wendt Gallery. In his attempt to bring back ‘Destinations Sri Lanka’ again, Prasad hopes to feature some of newer and more recent hotel properties which have come up in the travel sector since the tourism boom during the past five years.

At this repeat event of ‘Destination Sri Lanka,’ Prasad is planning to bring forward a collection with some added value to his creative exercise of taking photographs by combining it with his ability to paint, which he dabbled in all through his youth. The artist has very successfully held many exhibitions since 2016 featuring this method of collage, combining his photo images with painting and collage effects, creating images focused on a mixed-medium base.

“I have managed to feature the vibrant locations of our country and in some instances the beautiful interiors of the many hotels sitting in those surroundings using the art of collage combined with my photo images, shown as featured at some of my recent exhibitions (pictures featured here showing Amaya Lake in Kandy, Aliya in Sigiriya, The Kingsbury in Colombo, Elephant Corridor in Sigiriya and Three Chefs at the Mount Lavinia Hotel) stand as good examples of how images of two different artistic streams can be combined to create an exciting visual towards entertaining viewers,” explained the artist.

Prasad, who started off as a child artist and worked in many areas connected to art, such as batik designing, fashion designing, window and interior design, also dabbled in graphic designing which led him to join the media stream following his appointment as a graphic designer to do the artwork of a leading magazine and was consequently appointed as its editor. 

Prasad is armed with a background of working as an external designer at the National Design Centre, Department of Small Industries and later at the National Craft Council. Through all those times Prasad was still actively involved in his art – having shown his work at a couple of major exhibitions first in 1997 (paintings) followed by two exhibitions of his photographs, first in 2001 in Colombo and later in Kandy in 2003.

In 2016 Prasad brought into public view his secret passion of wanting to combine his passion to paint with his ability to capture images creatively through his love for photography, creating a new artistic image. Later that year he came out with his first collection of creative images titled ‘ABU Collection.’ which was presented by Alliance Francaise de Kotte (in Colombo).  Since then Prasad has been a regular participant at the Annual ‘Kala Pola’ and ‘Nawa Kalakaruwo’ organised by the George Keyt Foundation and has his work included in a permanent collection showing at ‘Fortaleza’ inside the Galle Fort and at other group exhibitions held in and around Colombo and Kandy. 

With this next exhibition of his Prasad plans to create a visual impact how the techniques of art and photography can work as singular entities on their own and also as stunning imagery created when merged into one visual art form. 

At this major showing of his work due in August, Prasad hopes to create awareness amongst the public by carrying the message on how closely the visual arts and travel go hand in hand and how, in combining them together, one could create the kind of unusual visual images that can encourage more travellers to visit those places and also patronise the arts as a part of their passion to travel.    

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