Lake County Photography Exhibitions in Sri Lanka – Lake County Record-Bee

I recently went to an exhibition of photographs of Karen Pavone’s work in Kelseyville at the Fore Family Winery. I went to support and meet a fellow talented photographer living in Lake County.

Pavone’s excellent exhibit brought back memories of exhibits I had in Sri Lanka. A favorite took place at the Park Street Hotel, a posh colonial-style hotel. Large framed photographs were hung around the open lobby and outdoor walkways around the pool. It was part of the first Colombo Art Bienalle in 2009. A crowd of friends and curious people came for the opening. My friend Manohari Caderamanpulle, a famous clothing designer, dressed me in a glam sparkly top and a red satin pencil skirt that came just below my knees with a sexy side slit. (I was still young enough to win!)

The exhibition was titled “Camera Shy?” Lipton Jayawickrama (my photo partner) and I had taken pictures of people, some of whom were definitely not shy and some who were drastically shy.

One of my favorite subjects was a woman who had cancer and who wore a wig or a scarf around her head, ashamed of how little hair she had.

Lipton and I arrived at her house with all our gear and just sat down and talked with her. She was so camera shy that she had given up on being photographed several times. Eventually, she agreed to look into the lens…with her wig on. After that, at our suggestion, she went upstairs and came back with a beautiful scarf wrapped around her head.

Very gently I asked her if I could photograph her without a wig or scarf. She thought about it for a moment, then timidly removed the headscarf, revealing a lovely face with very short salt-and-pepper hair.

The photos we printed for the exhibition were of her with her wig, scarf and natural. The photos showed the transformation of her being very uncomfortable being herself, smiling and confident. She bought the photo collage at the exhibit and proudly hung it in the hallway of her home.

There were so many great people we photographed, men and women. A woman in a strapless dress. The backstory was that she had come home from a posh party early in the morning, hungover. Lipton suggested she go into the shower fully dressed. As he held the shower head above her, I photographed her using natural light from an open window. It was so sexy, we both fell in love with her!

An international artist, Cora de Lang, agreed to be photographed. When we first ventured into her home, I walked around looking at all of her amazing things she had collected from around the world. On a desk, I saw a photo of a very young Cora, taken from the shoulders up, who appeared to be naked. Excited, I told Cora (then in her 50s) that I wanted to duplicate this photo, so she walked up and down wearing nothing but a sarong. We barely knew her, yet she did it for us. The photo showed her vulnerability and confidence. Continents apart, we all remain friends to this day.

The very first exhibition that Lipton and I held was visited by the American Ambassador to Sri Lanka with his wife. As they strolled through the exhibit, they noticed how my photos showed daily life in the small island county. The title of the exhibition was, Sri Lanka; A woman’s point of view.

There were 124 photographs in the collection, from young ordained monks to a young woman waiting at a bus stop. Many Sri Lankans thanked me for showing them the beauty of their country. The exhibition was animated, successful and we sold many photographs. We had local women dressed in saris who helped collect money, addresses and emails. The only problem was that I had dengue fever. I didn’t know that at the time. I remember when the ambassador introduced himself, I painfully got up from my chair and walked around the room with him feeling like my bones were broken (that’s why it’s called Breakbone Fever). I didn’t complain to anyone except Lipton. I managed to survive the three day event, but on Monday my fever spiked and I landed in hospital for a week of misery.

Sadly, Lipton caught dengue fever the week after I was released from the hospital.

What was a girl supposed to do?…heal, take more pictures and thank goodness Lake County doesn’t have that damn dengue fever!

Lucy Llewellyn Byard is currently a freelance journalist and columnist for the Record-Bee. To contact her, email [email protected]

Julia P. Cluff