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Jayamini de Silva's journey brings her back to art

THE titles contemporary artists choose for their paintings can sometimes be deliberately bamboozling.

Jayamini de Silva

THE titles contemporary artists choose for their paintings can sometimes be deliberately bamboozling. There is no such obscurity with Jayamini de Silva’s work.

Her vibrant paintings are given names like Love, Elegance, Grace, Dignity, Dominance, Serenity, Suffering and Determination and Harmony.

Jayamini’s broad inspiration is the “agony and ecstasy of being a woman” and her works are packed full of emotions.

She says: “In my creations I try to replicate the journey of a woman, from being a daughter, student, job seeker, to a commodity, a partner, a mother and so on.”

In addition to a woman’s journey, Jayamini is also concerned with prevalent stereotypes of Asian women in Western media.

She says: “I have noticed that the news we come across of Asian woman can be dominated by air of negativity.

“For example, we hear of smuggled migrants from the Far East engaged in the sex trade or of forced marriages, or honour killings or the burqa.”

She adds: “With my work in my own tiny way I am trying to shed some positive light about the woman from the Far East.”

Jayamini started painting earlier this year after a break of eight years during which she completed an MA in Newcastle and had three children. Her youngest is now two-and-a-half years old and Jayamini has found a small space in the living room of her Heaton home in which to paint.

She says: “I have been a full-time mum but suddenly found a little time this year to paint again. Without the support of my husband I wouldn’t be able to do this.

Jayamini de Silva

“It was strange to start again but the flow has come back again. If I have the time to paint I work quickly.”

Jayamini, from Sri Lanka, studied Chinese traditional paintings and Calligraphy at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China, after winning a government scholarship to study abroad.

She says: “I didn’t know a word of Mandarin Chinese so I had to learn it quickly when I was in Beijing.

“I was there for five years and I wanted to learn traditional Chinese art and calligraphy, which is the key for Chinese art. I was the first Sri Lankan to graduate from this course.”

On her return to Sri Lanka she taught Chinese Fine Art at university and, in 2004, arrived in Newcastle to study the Conservation of Fine Art at the University of Northumbria.

“There are many ancient artefacts and manuscripts to conserve in Sri Lanka, so when I go back I can help,” Jayamini, 38, says. “We don’t have many trained conservationists in Sri Lanka.”

Jayamini is currently settled in Newcastle where she will hold her first exhibition since 2003, when she showed work in her home country. Her vivid works on silk, rice paper and canvas will be shown at the temporary Made in Newcastle gallery in the city centre. The show is entitled Neth (An Asian Eye), and consists of an exhibition of artworks, including paintings, Chinese art and calligraphy.

Jayamini says: “I am influenced by Chinese and Sri Lankan art and have created my own style.”

Neth (An Asian Eye) is at Made in Newcastle, Nun Street, Newcastle, until October 2.

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