When the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa set up the Geoffrey Bawa Trust 40 years ago in 1982, he made the remarkable decision of issuing a mandate that was to foster ecological and environmental sciences, art, and architecture – a visionary choice of intertwined disciplines. Perhaps as an architect whose life’s work is centred on a garden, this foresight was inevitable.
That garden, Lunuganga, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, in 2023. Felicitating this occasion, the Geoffrey Bawa Trust explores the inseparability of art and ecology; particularly in the ways we understand nature and the natural; archives and rituals; food and healing. Dedicated to the garden, and using the garden as a lens for engagement, the Trust’s curatorial team explores multivocal projects across generations and geographies in this program. To Lunuganga is organised across three seasons, considering the overarching and increasingly unpredictable temporalities at Lunuganga, and its relationship to the Earth’s crust, to the biosphere, and the cosmos:
- Season 1: May-August 2023
Yala/Sirupokam/Southwest Monsoon 2023
Program announced in April 2023
- Season 2: September 2023-April 2024
Program announced in July 2023
- Season 3: May-August 2024
Program announced in April 2024
A range of events merging cultural and ecological activities will be presented in each season. Collaborating with a range of individuals and institutions from Sri Lanka and overseas, participants of the program in Season 1 will include:
Clara Kraft Isono (UK), Firi Rahman (Sri Lanka), Hélène Binet (UK), Instituto Burle Marx (Brazil), Dakin Hart (USA), Reena Khallat (India), Sumayya Vally, (South Africa and UK), University of Sri Jayawardenapura (Sri Lanka), University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka), Young Astronomers Club (Sri Lanka)
Four essential themes will underlie the program: Nature and the natural, empathy through ecology, access beyond language and garden as lens. This year, the Geoffrey Bawa Memorial Lecture, now in its 20th cycle, will take the form of discussion on the gardens of three important multi-disciplinary makers across three continents: Isamu Noguchi, Roberto Burle Marx and Geoffrey Bawa. A star party and poetry reading will allow audiences to experience Lunuganga aurally at night, while a Tree Talks podcast will chart access to the garden through its specific flora, tapping into the intertwining of humans, plants, and local deities.
A 3-D archive project with Clara Kraft Isono and the Royal College of Art in London will explore the garden as a living collection, mapping the past and future at Lunuganga. As the organisers of Open House Colombo (part of the Open House Worldwide network) this year, the Trust will highlight and bring access to gardens and greenspaces across Colombo and Bentota. A publication exploring space through smell and feel will portray the sensorial experience of the garden. Three celebrated artists will make site-specific works at Lunuganga; Sumayya Vally, Reena Kallat and Firi Rahman.
The curatorial team will collaborate with a Youth Advisory Board and three Accessibility Advisors on the To Lunuganga program to explore how cultural and environmental endeavours can reach wider audiences with a deeper impact.
Curatorial team: Shayari de Silva, Aneesha Mustachi, Thilini Perera, Shanika Perera, Christopher Silva and Sathira Imaduwage.