People of Sri Lanka
25th March 2020
“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
Pondering the enormity of what is happening around the world, I feel very fortunate that I was able to travel and have a photography adventure this winter. Now, while editing at my desk at home in the north of England, I have been able to transport myself back to this incredible island. In no other country that I have visited have I felt so at ease taking photographs of people. The Sri Lankan’s are warm, kind and extremely good natured. They are happy to talk and share their knowledge of the country and it is always with a smile.
From Anuradhapura to Kandy.
From Kandy to Ella.
From Ella to Galle.
Traveling by bus, car & train.
The photographs I have decided to show below are very much about the people I met along the way. Artisanal craftsmen hammering designs into brass, embroidery meticulously being created, wooden elephants being whittled and a woman weaving a beautiful shawl on her loom. At Amba Lodge, a tea plantation near Ella, they cultivate their own tea and coffee, and grow all their fruit and vegetables organically in the garden. While we were there two women were making marmalade with fresh oranges and limes.
You can walk from Amba lodge to Ella. It is the best part of five hours with beautiful views high up in the mountains. Part of the walk is along the train track (too exciting for my Western senses) and, feeling just like Roberta in The Railway Children, I came across three brothers playing with a kite. Stopping to have lunch in their parents’ cafe I played with them a while, throwing a kite high in the air from the top of the bank. The rather limited wind would twist it around for a couple of turns and then, inevitably it would drop to the boys standing below holding the other end. The kite would get unavoidably caught up in the telegraph lines and we would then spend the following ten minutes disentangling the string before starting the whole process again.
As you go further south the heat starts to hit you. In Galle armies of school children were being escorted around the battlements of the 16th century Portuguese colonial fort. All of them shouting “hello” as we passed by going the other way. Later, as dusk fell and the strain of the day had eased they plunged into the sea water, clothes and all, to wash off the dust and heat of the day, with silhouetted fishermen standing on rocks nearby.
Down by the river, at the head of the famous Ravana Falls you will find an old, hydro-powered tea factory which was abandoned in the 1930s. It is still very much in tact and guarded by a watchman as well as the inevitable chattering monkeys. It is an enviable warehouse with enormous windows and tin roof, and would indeed be a highly sought after property for any artist wishing to create a studio. There is a backdrop of palm trees which contrast beautifully with English roses that ramble along the walls. I can only imagine they must have been brought over by the British in the early 20th century.
I shared the sacred feeling of being in a Buddhist shrine with school children, I bought samosas on the train to Ella from a man who, with a basket of food precariously perched on his head, fearlessly jumped across the tracks from another train. I wandered through a market, heat radiating off the pavement and exotic smells of fresh pineapple and ground cinnamon washing over me. The thought of all this now is truly intoxicating.
Follow more adventures on my Travel Instagram @travelsofnote
All images are for sale:
Printed on very beautiful and tactile paper: Hahnemuhle German Etching, 310g & signed with a letter of authenticity.
Limited edition of 10. Size 40x30cm Cost: £85 including post/packaging within the U.K.