An artist in lockdown : Noeline Fernando | Daily News


An artist in lockdown : Noeline Fernando

Not long after curfew was imposed

The artist’s studio was empty. Paint gradually hardened on scattered brushes and the faces on canvases looked vacant - its maker was far from home. Among those completed were others that still needed plenty more brush strokes and many more coats of paint. But far from her apartment and her art, well-known and much loved artist Noeline Fernando was rediscovering art of the everyday.

Noeline was spending her days at her son’s home in Battaramulla; her daughter and her children Anuki and Ariya live next door. Soon her granddaughters became her constantly curious companions. Amidst requests for pancakes and incessant news flashes, Noeline contemplated her philosophy of art. She wandered around the garden creating patches of beauty.She painted egg shells for Easter and strung together lanterns for Vesak; often reminiscing on the days she taught art to children of all ages. During those days, she would gather scraps of colourful paper, discarded paper plates,and greeting cards from bygone days to create something pretty or useful. Noeline believes in creating art with whatever that surrounds her – it could be a space as large as a garden or an object as fragile as an egg shell.She also always reimagined traditional notions of an artist – to Noeline an artist is not someone whose work is confined to a canvas or a studio but one who is courageous enough to find and hone their inner artist.

As weeks soon turned into months, Noeline began to daydream about her work while dwelling on the art that decorates the walls of her son’s home. As always, her granddaughters contributed to these musings. Among the art her son possessed were painted prints of God Ganesh. Anuki soon developed a fascination for these vividly colourful works and wanted one of her own. Touched and encouraged by her granddaughter’s enthusiasm Noeline promised to re-interpret the work as a collage.

Curfew is lifted

The artist has returned to her apartment. Dust turns into a rainbow of colours and a shower of glitter and sequins is scattered on the floor. Noeline is devotedly working on the collage of God Ganesh. She incorporates scraps of colourful paper and cloth to lend vibrancy to the work – Noeline’s fondness for Indian art and culture is quickening her movements. The collage has neared completion.

She also glances at a few canvases that were left incomplete since lockdown; her spirits soar. Noeline is inspired by the colours we encounter in our day-to-day lives – the youthful green of paddy fields, the violent reds of an evening sky, and the soothing blues of a calm sea. Her canvases that once gathered dust are now awash with colour. Now set side by side, the canvases create the perfect marriage of colours, shapes, and prints.

Noeline’s imagination is also alive with figures – those that inhabited her canvases from her days as a young artist. She depicts solitary beings indulging in the consoling presence of each other; much like we do during these days of social distancing. The figures are soon taking shape and will stand as a testament to these unusual times.

The artist is back in her studio, among familiar faces and a cherished routine. But her imagination only takes shape when she contemplates the beauty of the everyday she rediscovered during lockdown.

Noeline Fernando’s much-loved work can be viewed on her website,

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