Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Nayanahari’s Photography Exhibition

By Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne
Colombo, 25 June, (

The title of this exhibition had a play on words. In English It was titled ‘These are not dew drops of Jaffna”! That is obvious. Jaffna is a very very warm place. There is hardly any dew, even in the morning. So it is factually correct not to expect dew drops in Jaffna in the morning. But in Sinhala, the mother tongue of the photographer, she chose to say that ‘this is not Frost of Jaffna! In order to have Frost, temperature has to be very low. A place that is dry and dusty, Frost is unthinkable in Jaffna. This was intriguing. No one will expect frost in Jaffna. But one may occasionally see dew!

Even though there was a play on words that caught my eye, this young lady photographer who had her first ever solo exhibition at the prestigious Lionel Wendt gallery is a person of few words. She is shy and hardly speaks. Instead her 68 photographs spoke a language that went beyond words. Miss Nayanahari Abeynayake, with her photographs, captured my heart.

The word photographer is made by joining the Greek word phos which means light and the word graphe meaning drawing. So photographer is a person that draws with light. If you see Nayanahari’s photography, you will see that she amply fits the bill. Nayanahari told me that she uses two Cameras, a Canon 50 D and a Nikon DC 500, that her photographs are not photo shopped or edited. Occasionally, they are cropped to bring attention to a focal point but she uses editing techniques to a bare minimum. In her photography, I felt that this minimalistic interference brings a sense of sincerity to a photo. The people in the photos are not models or actors but normal day to day people like you and I. My heart was filled with a sense of kinship towards them and my eyes were wet with affection towards the photographer and her subjects.

Her photographs have a poetic quality in them. A lyrical smoothness yet it is the hardship of the people’s lives that she tries to depict. Her compassion towards them is evident. She invited priests from all religions for the opening ceremony and it was touching to see them getting together to light the humble tea light candles together.

She said that her family stood behind her and helped her to organize this exhibition. Nayanahari’s parents Mr. Siripala Abeyanayake and Mrs. Kalyani Yapa Abeywardena are teachers, she has one sister, Dr. Chittahari Abeyanayake married to Devaka Jayasuriya, and two brothers, Yasith a software engineer and Amila, a student reading towards a PhD in Japan. She is a Diploma Holder of the Lal Hegoda photography Academy and Mr. Hegoda said that she is the only female to do so! Nayanahari studies German at the Goethe institute and French at Alliance Francaise.

Nayanahari’s photography carries a subtle political message which is polite and inconspicuous. There are no undertones of malice or accusations towards any one. She nudges people to see what she saw and make people think. I can see that Nayanahari Abeyanayake has already made her mark and will go a long way. I look forward to see her becoming a much acclaimed photographer one day. Judge for yourself. Here are some of her photographs!

- Asian Tribune -

Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne  with Miss Nayanahari Abeynayake, the  Photographer
Drying Chillies
The Sky
Collecting Firewood
The Happy Sky
diconary view
Share this