The inimitable Ena De Silva: a centenary celebration of an unprecedented textile arts practice 

The Aluwihare Heritage Centre warmly presents to you a series of events celebrating the birth centenary of Ena De Silva.

For decades, De Silva’s explorations of batik and embroidery established a new artistic paradigm for Sri Lankan textiles. These explorations focused not only on furthering the craft but greatly on the empowerment of rural and urban women through strengthening modes of self-reliance. Inspired by long-held traditional craft production intermingled with ideas from other disciplines and cultures, Ena De Silva and her workshop in Aluwihare-Matale furthered the making of a Sri Lankan imaginary that inspired and represented a changing modern society.

The series of events will be showcased at Barefoot Loft Gallery, Rithihi, the De Saram house and the private residence of architect C. Anjalendran. Events will take place between 22nd October and 3rd November. Admission for all events is free and open to everyone from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The main exhibition ‘Ena de Silva and the Making of a Sri Lankan Modern’ displays rare and exquisite originals made by Ena and her collaborators across the two main principal agents of her practice, Batik and Embroidery, while highlighting many of their origins to better understand her work and its significance to the art history of Sri Lanka. Many of these objects are being seen for the first time and carefully curated by Ena’s life-long friends and collaborators Amila de Mel and Channa Daswatte.The Exhibit will be on display 22nd October to 3rd November at the Barefoot Gallery in Colombo 03.

Concurrently, an exhibition of ‘Ena’s Sarees’ will be on display from 22 October to 3 November at  Rithihi-19 Alfred House Gardens, Colombo 03. Paying homage to true South Asian culture and fashion, Ena designed and produced a number of sarees for family and friends over the years. Ranging in complexities from simple batik cotton sarees to highly intricate applique work, and sometimes a combination of both. This exhibition will reflect Ena’s style and how she created her own version of high fashion, which were both accessible and relevant as Sri Lanka looked towards its own traditions to inform its modern culture.

In Battaramulla, Architect C.Anjalendran will open the doors to his private residence as he shares memories of his friend Ena, and presents his remarkable collection of Ena-designed sarongs and memorabilia. This will take place on the weekend of  22 and 23 October, with specific viewing times. On the 22 October at 5.30 p.m Anjalendran will host an online talk ‘The celebrated life of Ena de Silva by architect Anjalendran’ on Zoom. Both these events require prior registration on Eventbrite (www.aluwihareheritagecentre.eventbrite.com).

The de Saram house will open its doors for ‘Living with Ena’ where one can immerse themselves in the eclectic world of Ena de Silva through an in-situ showcase of homeware crafted through traditional techniques of batik and embroidery by the Aluwihare Heritage Centre. This immersive exhibit gives one a sneak peek of how she lived, while empowering not only the craft, but the space itself. This will take place on the weekend of  29 and 30 October, at 61/6 Ward place, Colombo 07.

The events are presented by Aluwihare Heritage Centre and is supported by Barefoot Gallery, Rithihi, Geoffrey Bawa Trust, John Keells Foundation, and Anantara Kalutara Resort and Spa.