Children in confinement, online art festival

Forced by the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, like any other industry, the fact that the art world is in a digital hub is no longer a shadow of a doubt. A virtual art festival organized by the Stages Theater Group and Kindernothilfe will be held from November 26 to 28.

The festival is called “Children in Lockdown Arts Festival 2021”. There are several festival partners, including the Goethe Institut, German Embassy, ​​Oneness Center, Lionel Wendt, Sunethra Bandaranaike Trust, NewsFirst and Music Matters. Ruwanthie De Chickera is the festival curator while Malith Hegoda joins her as co-curator.

Ruwanthie does not need an introduction. No hyperbole remains in stating that Ruwanthe’s wealth of knowledge and experience made her one of the most sought-after art directors on the island. Ruwanthie is an accomplished and acclaimed artistic director with academic excellence whose experience in her chosen field spans twenty years.

Art and theater

Arts and theater are its synonyms. His workshops on art and theater have often enjoyed overwhelming popularity and participants have benefited from them. Malith’s love of cinema is not a strange phenomenon. He is a versatile filmmaker with a clear and broad vision. He also loves the theater.

“I am also very drawn to the theater”. I love its liveliness and its ability to hold the breath of a live audience, “said Malith. Sharing his thoughts on the art festival, Malith said he was impressed with every artist they selected. .

He said: “I wish we had more funds to support the rest of the artists who applied, as most of the ideas shared personal journeys they had during the lockdown.”

Malith is quite upbeat and looks forward to seeing all of the final artwork from the commissioned artists. Malith said: “I am interested to see the discussion that will be built around the work of the ‘digital wellness initiative’ which has been initiated through this commission.”

Malith thinks this discussion could make a difference. “This discussion would be important given the inevitable ‘digital’ presence of ourselves in the virtual landscape of the post-Covid world,” said Malith. Piumi Wijesundara is the director of the festival. She is the Co-Artistic Director and Arts Administrator of the Stages Theater Group. Piumi has excellent academic references. “The Children in Lockdown Arts Festival 2021” will focus on creating a platform where artists, children and adults strive to reflect the treatment and experiences of children during the pandemic.

Commissioned works

According to their press release, 20 works of art that address the challenges faced by children during the pandemic were commissioned following a six-month program organized by Stages Theater Group (STG) and supported by Kindernothilfe (KNH) . Children and adult artists created these 20 commissioned works of art. The work is accompanied by artistic installations, theatrical performances, screenings of short films, puppet shows and lectures, given by the artists. All these planned elements will be made public during the online sessions of the Children in Lockdown Arts Festival.

Through the festival, communities will be able to find a space to meet, discuss, debate and communicate on the problems faced by children during the pandemic. Conferences, workshops, round tables and forums led by children, adults, artists and professionals working with children will accompany the process.

Through the open source digital arts exhibit component of the festival, it will be able to collect thoughts from children from all corners and corners of the island about their experiences during the pandemic and who will feature children’s submissions. under the age of 21. Each digital interactive session will be facilitated in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Sign Language.

Research conducted during the pandemic found that during the school shutdown and lockdown, there is a significant increase in depressive symptoms and anxiety in children. It is generally accepted that confinement and quarantine are rather unpleasant and psychologically distressing states of isolation for all who experience them. The psychological problems suffered by children in confinement would have a catastrophic impact on the lives of children. With this in mind, the scheduled ‘Children in Lockdown’ art festival will be an ideal platform for young people to talk about their inner feelings and experiences during the lockdown.

Four artists contributing to the “Children in The Lockdown” art festival shared their experiences with the Sunday Observer. Natalie Soysa is an activist. She also works as an editor, journalist, writer, graphic designer, photographer and occasional filmmaker. His contributions in these fields are exceptionally remarkable.

Complex relationship

Natalie said that in order to focus her energy on things that needed more attention, she prematurely retired from a very successful career in marketing communications, spanning 12 years. She said that over the past 11 years, she has been able to produce work that confronts what we would rather ignore: our complex relationship with ourselves and with each other in the context of gender, race and position. religion in post-colonial and post-war Sri Lanka. .

Natalie has gained extensive editorial experience during her extended stints as editor for the Sri Lanka Press Institute and associate editor for ĹT magazine. Their writings and photographs have been published and exhibited at key festivals locally and regionally, even in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Natalie was commissioned to produce body of work by theater group Stages and Kindernothilfe to co-create an art book and film on fighting cancer during the Covid-19 pandemic as a single parent.

She has also been responsible for producing body of work for Groundviews, International Center for Ethnic Studies, Political Alternatives, United Nations, Royal Geographical Society, IPPF / FPA. Regarding her involvement in the “Children in the Lockdown” art festival, Natalie said, “This is the goal of the festival itself. I am one of 20 grantees who will represent my work at the festival. “The Children in Lockdown” by stages theater group and Kindernothilfe “.


Sharing her ideas on her project at the art festival, Natalie said, “My project, titled ‘Am I Ready to Die? “is a film and a book, produced with Shayne Seneviratne and showcasing the works of my son is a critical look at Sri Lanka Healthcare”.

Child artist Ramithu Sellahewa studies at Royal College, Colombo-7. Ramithu, 14, is a promising short story writer. His “The Hot Air Balloon” and other interlocking stories will attract a larger audience. Ramithu’s future goal is to become an astronaut. He is pursuing the A / L of Edexcel International as a private candidate. His interest in literature and books was one of the main inspirations for him to write a book. He said: “I’m also interested in music, playing the violin; I’m also a bit into digital art“.

Ramithu said, “I believe art is not just a picture on a wall or a book you can read. Each work of art is unique and precious to its creator. Every designer will in one way or another tend to include their experiences in their work of art. Art is not just a method of entertaining you: it is a way of life “.

Tasmin Anthonisz is an old maid of Ladies’ College, Colombo. She studied theater and film at the University of Manchester, from where she obtained a BA. Tasmin also holds an LTCL in Performing Arts Education. She is the artistic director of Studiolusion which was created in 2017 with the idea of ​​exploring original pieces, original adaptations of pieces in correspondence / response to the social context.

Tasmin is now a full-time theater practitioner: her work has been included in the Dramatic Society at Wesley College, Colombo for 3-4 years. Giving his take on the kids at the 2021 Lock Art Festival while expressing his debt to Ruwanthie and Stages, Tasmin said, “This is a brilliant initiative from Ruwanthie and Stages as this platform gives space to voices that have not been heard to share and discuss the traumas that have arisen as a result of the confinement, which many people, especially children, are just beginning to assimilate.

Words and experience

Tasmin said, “It is not easy to share experiences verbally, especially in these days when people quickly jump over missteps on the internet / public forum. The Internet forgets that we are always learning. The Conservatives have given us a lot of freedom. and the confidence to make that expression, which I think has strengthened the validity of each of our voices, and reinforces the idea that no matter the size of the speaker, their words and experience matter. “

The festival will include Chatroom 2021, produced by Tasmin. Chatroom 2021 is an adaptation of Enda Walsh’s play Chatroom. Tasmin’s project is presented as Chatroom 2021, as it was taken in the run-up to 2021.

Umeshi Rajeendra is a dance artist and educator. Umeshi said: “I am interested in researching decoloniality in practice, exploring socio-political and identity policies to think and act on how the movement can mobilize social change and impact.” Umeshi’s lecture entitled “Reimagining otherwise” will be an important part of the festival’s agenda. Umeshi of his idea of ​​the aspect of the arts as a mode of communication said: “At its core, art has a lot to do with looking deeply and honestly at all aspects of our lives, from the physical to the physical. to the emotional through the spiritual. It is a huge area. of different mediums. There is something for everyone to work with “.

Umeshi’s classification of the arts is rather informative, exceptional and delivered in the most appropriate way where she kept stating, “Art is all about creativity. emotional and existential landscapes that help us feel, think, grow and reimagine the possibilities of the world.

She added, “But there is a difference between art therapy and knowing when to seek professional help. There are challenges that may require the field of art / movement therapy specifically to help people. children and adults “.

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Reggie S. Williams