Sri Lanka’s popular open-air art gallery cum art fair, ‘Kala Pola’, which came alive on Sunday 23 January 2011 on the sidewalks of Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha (Green Path), saw the participation of 320 artists and drew a crowd of nearly 27,000.
“277 artists registered for this year’s Kala Pola”, said Cedric De Silva, Chairman, Board of Trustees, George Keyt Foundation, and there were 43 who remained unregistered. There was also a steady stream of visitors at the Kala Pola; many of whom bought nearly 1000 items - both paintings and sculptures - with the artists making approximately Rs. 7 million in sales. The amount of sales of individual artists ranged from Rs.1,000/- to Rs.480,000/-.”
Kala Pola 2011 was declared open ceremonially by Han Tao, Deputy Ambassador of Peoples Republic of China in Sri Lanka, in the presence of Cedric De Silva, Lallith Ramanayake, Head of CSR, John Keells Holdings PLC, the trustees of the George Keyt Foundation and senior officials of the John Keells Group. Conceptualised by the George Keyt Foundation, “Kala Pola” has enjoyed the unbroken patronage of the John Keells Group over the past 17 years. Kala Pola offers upcoming as well as established artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell their works of art to art collectors and art lovers. It has also helped launch the careers of numerous artists over the years, not only helping them to build a steady clientele, but also promoting art as a lucrative professional career. Many Kala Pola artists have been successful and have gone onto launch careers in the international arena.
From 8.00 a.m. to past 6.00 p.m., Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha was a hive of activity, with curious visitors including numerous tourists, intent art-collectors and families on a day out, browsing through row upon row of colourful creations on display while children gazed in awe at the stilt-walkers, dancers and drummers providing lively entertainment. A constant stream of jazz music and a variety of food stalls including local delicacies added to the general atmosphere of camaraderie and fun.
This year, Kala Pola introduced the special feature of an art auction where 15 paintings of selected artists came under the hammer at the National Art Gallery. A total revenue of Rs. 570,000 was generated as a result of the art auction. “Your efforts to help artists are deeply appreciated”, said Anura Dahanayake, a long-term exhibitor at Kala Pola, whose colourful oil on canvas entitled `Having a Rest’ was one of the items which attracted enthusiastic bidding at the art auction.
Kala Pola is sponsored and organized by John Keells Holdings PLC and John Keells Foundation and presented by the George Keyt Foundation.