‘Wild in Ruins’, Lester Perera’s exhibition celebrates both wildlife and archaeological sites. This article was published on 31st of August 2014. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140831/plus/i-spy-with-my-little-eye-a-bird-115448.html
Well known wildlife artist and leading naturalist Lester Perera is ready with his next exhibition of wildlife art under the theme ‘Wild in Ruins’. Among the colourful paintings of birds using watercolours and acrylics, the exhibition contains black and white ‘ink and pen’ drawings. At a glance, they seem to showcase archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, but a closer look will reveal the birds that perfectly blend into the ruins. There are kingfishers perched on top of ancient korawakkgala, the owl in wata da geya, an Indian Pitta in the ruins of Polonnaruwa- hence the theme ‘Wild in Ruins’. Lester says he wanted to promote birding in Heritage Sites through this exhibition while also highlighting the importance to step up conservation of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, before human activities ruin them. In a colour sketch the artist has shades of different colour to bring life to a painting, but in black and white, the artist has to use different shades of the same colour to give depth to the drawing, which needs lots of patience and skill. “Drawing wildlife in black and white is more difficult, but I enjoy it. It is like a meditation that brings me enormous personal pleasure,” Lester says. This is Lester’s 8th exhibition of wildlife art. With almost 30 years’ experience as a birdwatcher, Lester is undeniably one of the most accomplished bird artists in the region. He has exhibited his work at many international exhibitions and was invited by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for “Art on the wing” 2005 to exhibit his work along with the leading wildlife artists in Europe at the Maclaurin Gallery in Scotland.
He annually donates his work to the Oriental Bird Club of the UK to be auctioned at the British Bird Watching Fair held in Leicestershire, the proceeds of which are used for significant bird related conservation work in the Orient. “I’m already framed as a ‘Bird Artist’, but I also wanted to prove I’m versatile and I can take up the challenge of drawing other things,” says Lester explaining why he has chosen to focus more on habitats this time – particularly archaeological sites. As a renowned naturalist, Lester points out that people need to enjoy nature as a whole when they go out into the wild. “Other than birds, leopards or elephants – there are so many things to observe when people go out into a forest. Simple things such as the fallen leaves on the forest floor in different stages of decay can be something unique to explore,” added Lester, who is critical of the behaviour of visitors to wildlife parks who chase behind animals like leopards in a crazy effort to photograph them. It is not easy to become a wildlife artist in Sri Lanka as there is very little assistance from the state and no proper government run Art Gallery that can be used by the budding artists to showcase their talents, points out Lester who feels it is high time the State played a more active role in fostering the arts. “Wild in Ruins” will be at the Harold Peiris gallery of the Lionel Wendt on September 6 and 7 of 2014 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.