It’s all in the wall
Graffiti or wall art is nothing new to Sri Lanka. How many times have you seen the walls of schools and hospitals painted with educational, patriotic and timely content? For the longest time, however, these wall arts did not exceed beyond hospitals or school walls.
Nevertheless, a trend in swirling waves of graffiti has invaded the country manically for the past few days. Enthusiastic groups of youth carrying paintbrushes and buckets of paint are a common sight in almost every town. Their sketches radically overrun parapet walls, highway bridges, abandoned buildings, and any paintable space. These graffiti are mainly based on culture, environment, heritage, and history, coupled with interesting contemporary themes.
The wall painting trend that has emerged among the youth who had got together reportedly through social media is a unique phenomenon.
Youth get together in their respective localities and clean public walls in towns and cities, reportedly collect funds from friends and businessmen in the area and draw murals on them, giving a pleasant look not only to the walls but also to the entire vicinity.
According to volunteers, the emerging trend of beautification of the environment by freeing it of posters and polythene has made them more energized to continue and broaden their volunteer work. As a result, they have been expanding their cleaning project at the Panadura beach and the city with graffiti art.
Similarly, in Gampaha, Katunayake, Kandy, Piliyandala, Galle, Ratnapura, Kurunegala, and many other main cities as well as in the suburbs the trend has caught on with the help of social media.
This much can be said before going into issues such as, ‘what drives these youngsters?’
The country is collectively coming out of a hangover, from when the state diktat was all about how people will be drawn and quartered. The youth seem to be filing in their response. There is nothing inspirational about people being drawn and quartered, they are stating in one voice. But there is something very inspirational about drawing, just drawing on the walls, and that’s really something to behold.
This phenomenon is a far more important national milestone than it may appear to be at first glance — it’s a collective nation coming of age if you will.
The next phase, we are told, is a drive for nurturing miniature plants in urban areas, and fight climate change while beautifying the urban landscape in the process.
At the moment, we can witness some unique developments happening in Sri Lanka. More importantly, we have many challenges to overcome as well. The young people in the country can be seen volunteering themselves for many activities at the moment. They remove posters, wall painting, cleaning beaches and trying to keep the city clean. We can see they are enjoying their work despite gender, ethnicity or any other. Their smiles will tell us many positives for our future.
So, how did that culture of diyavu, diyavu (the closest proper translation is ‘your money or your life’) transform into a culture of let’s draw, and not be drawn and quartered?
It’s hopefully because, at some time, forward-moving cultures transform from a state of asking ‘what the nation can do for us’, to asking ‘what we can do for the nation.’