Thursday, May 11, 2023

Beauty in the miniscule! an incredibly talented artist from Sri Lanka

Miniature arts are fascinating. They require great talent as well as patience. As archaeologists say, the history of miniature art dates back to prehistory. 

The attention to fine detail and exquisite craftsmanship is what is fascinating and delightful about miniature art. Today, in a more commercial world, where arts have lost value as a classical hobby, a classical craft, and a classical prestigious career, miniature art has been able to maintain its place as a more lucrative career as well as a hobby.

Miniature art, commonly known as micro art, is popular among modern generations. It is somewhat new to Sri Lanka, although it has been a thing in the world for quite some time. Micro art is about carving, engraving, painting, and moulding miniature models of paintings, architectural structures, and objects which are of normal size. The entire structure of a normal size object is scaled into a micro size and is carved or painted on a micro surface. This is not an easy task. It takes time, patience, and great skill. 

Daya Micro Arts by Dayananda Lokuliyange

Carving on pencils and engraving on rice grains are such micro arts that require great talent. In Sri Lanka, Dayananda Lokuliyanage is one such talented artist. He carves on pencils and rice grains. Seeing his amazing work, we at Ceylon Today contacted him to know more about his work and talent. His works are branded as Daya Micro Arts.

“My father was also an artist,” started Dayananda. “Therefore, art has always been in my family and in my blood.”

Hailing from a family in Kandy, Haadeniya, Dayananda said that he studied arts at school, mostly ordinary drawing and painting. After school, as he got himself busy with his career art was not a priority in his life. Once again in 2010, he started to pick up art which he has not given attention to since he left school in 2003.

For about one year Dayananda had painted but once again had to keep the art aside due to his career.

A passion for micro arts since school days

At school, he has attempted to do miniature creations such as writing in extra small letters and making extra small short notes for fun. He used to write a one-page note in between two single rules in school days.

“During COVID-19, I was at home. I was involved in the tourism industry and due to the Easter Attacks and then COVID-19, most of the tourism-related industries and entrepreneurs faced difficulties. During this time, I thought of reviving my artwork once again.”

Dayananda said that he was thinking to do something unique and uncommon. Therefore, he did some research on various carving works such as coconut shell carving, and eggshell carvings. Then he noticed micro arts on pencils by foreign artists. He was inspired by many wonderful pencil carvings and tried his luck on this craft.

“I have been doing this now for almost four years now. I started with the basic tools I had and gradually purchased more and more tools for the craft. Now I have excelled in pencil carving,” said Dayananda with pride. “Leading senior foreign artists are also in touch with me.”

Engraving on rice grains

“These days I am engraving on rice grains,” Dayananda revealed.

What is interesting about Dayananda’s rice grain art is that he perhaps is the only artist in Sri Lanka to do rice carvings the way he does. Although this makes him a unique artist, it also means that there is no other artist in Sri Lanka with whom he can compare notes or share ideas. “However, world-class micro artists comment on my work,” Dayananda said.

He also spoke about various tools such as microscopes and other carving tools that he uses for his carvings and engravings. Some of these tools are extremely expensive and hard to afford. If Dayananda has more of these tools and equipment, he could well produce more exquisite work.

I have only requested opportunities from the authorities. In foreign countries, these artists are considered icons. In the world, these micro arts are admired.

Although in Sri Lanka, people have no value for this work, in the international, my work is admired.”

Although graphite or pencil micro art is not that unheard of in the global arena, rice grain carvings are a unique and rare form of micro art. Hence, Dayananda said he is investing a great amount of time and energy in rice grain engraving.

Talking about the market for these works, he said that it is hard to mark a high price for these works in Sri Lanka. This is actually an issue faced by many local artists. Due to many social and economic factors, the art market in Sri Lanka does not recognise the true value of artistic creations.

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Planning to exhibit his unique collection

“I have a collection of about 300 – 400 pencil carvings with me and hope to have my own gallery and museum one day,” Dayananda said, adding that he is confident that no one else in Sri Lanka has such a collection.

Dayananda also revealed his desire to do a solo exhibition one day, and said he is currently working on it. According to him, unlike organising an ordinary art exhibition, displaying, lighting, and viewing micro arts is not an easy task.

Among the international admirers of Dayananda’s work are micri artists Grahan Short and Dr. Willard Wigan. “They admire my work after seeing them on social media. Dr. Wigan is a micro engraver who works on needle eyes. These great artists are humble and down to earth.”

We wish Dayananda all the very best for his future endeavours and may he have the strength and opportunities to awe the world further.

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