Photographing peacebuilders in Sri Lanka

February 8 2013: Stephanie Rose Wood, a London-based photographer, travelled Sri Lanka photographing local peacebuilders. In the first part in a series of blog posts, Stephanie shares her work.

Banu Anwara. The playgroup superviser at one of Nest’s community centre’s. The photograph taken on the veranda of the centre in Udadumbara, a small town situated high up in The Knuckles Range in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. April 2012.

Stephanie Rose Wood is a photographer based in London who got in contact with Insight on Conflict last year to ask our advise concerning a project that she wanted to begin in Sri Lanka. Stephanie was interested in organisations that supported women who had been affected by the war and wanted to find out more about the possibility of working with these organisations whilst producing a photographic story.

Insight on Conflict put her in contact with a number of people. However, due to the political tensions at the time concerning NGO’s working with foreigners, Stephanie decided that it was the wrong time to begin the project, as she was sympathetic to the potential problems that this would cause. Stephanie re-evaluated her plans and decided to travel to Sri Lanka in April 2012, treating it as a research trip. Whilst in Sri Lanka, Stephanie travelled to the Eastern, Northern and Central Provinces and met people that were involved in community-based organisations, photographing her travels and some of the people that she met. Stephanie explains her project:

The photographs were produced whilst on a research trip to Sri Lanka in April and May 2012. This explorative trip was initially focussed on the aftermath of a war that lasted nearly three decades. Once in Sri Lanka I realised I could not create a collection of images portraying the country’s troubled past. Instead, I turned my attention to people’s ideas for it’s future and the positive movements that people at a grass roots level were making. Photographed are those who have committed themselves to providing support to others through community based organisations. The subjects are all of different backgrounds and experiences, they all wish for the same thing, peace and understanding.

The photographs were taken using a large format field camera. The camera, despite it’s large size and peculiarity invokes an inquisitive reaction rather than an intimidated one. The slow and methodical process encourages the sitter to relax, giving me the opportunity to engage with my subject and encourage a much more mindful photograph.

Stephanie is currently raising funds so that she may to return to Sri Lanka to work with NGO’s within photography and education whilst continuing with the photographic story. You can keep up to date on the project here. Featured below is a selection of her photographic work from the trip.

Sally Hulugalle. Co- Founder of Nest, an independent, community based NGO in Sri Lanka. Photograph taken at the sitters home in Colombo, May 2012.

 

Arjuna Hulugalle. Director of International Relations at The Mahatma Gandhi Institute and writer. Photograph taken at the sitters home in Colombo, May 2012.

 

Kallady, Batticaloa. April 2012.

 

Sitralega Maunaguru. Co- founder of Suriya Women’s Development Centre in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka and lecturer at the Eastern University. SWDC was established in 1991 with the objective of working with women and children displaced by conflict. The photograph was taken in the sitters garden in Batticaloa, April 2012.

 

Kallady Bridge and Batticaloa Lagoon, April 2012. The photograph was taken from Kallady, looking towards Batticaloa. 

 

Dr Kumari Jayawardena. A leading feminist figure and author of several books, including Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. The photograph taken in the sitters’ garden, in Colombo May 2012, when the sun was high.

 

Venerable Buddiyagama Chandraratatana. A Buddhist Priest in Putlam, Sri Lanka who is involved in the support of a language programme to encourage communication between people of different religions. The photograph was taken after a meeting between local religious leaders and The National Peace Council.

 

The Knuckles Range, April 2012. The photographs were taken whilst visiting villages in the mountains with volunteers from Nest.

 

The Knuckles Range, April 2012. The photographs were taken whilst visiting villages in the mountains with volunteers from Nest.

 

The Knuckles Range, April 2012. The photographs were taken whilst visiting villages in the mountains with volunteers from Nest.

 

The Knuckles Range, April 2012. The photographs were taken whilst visiting villages in the mountains with volunteers from Nest.

 

Mr Nirojan. A volunteer at one of Nest’s community centre’s. The photograph taken on the veranda of the centre in Udadumbara, a small town situated high up in The Knuckles Range in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. April 2012.

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Comments

There are 2 comments Show comments

Daphne Laing on February 11, 2013

These are wonderful, Steph!. I have met Sally Hulugalle in Colombo several times but didnt realise her job! The photos are very evoactive and speak louly to those of us who know a bit of the context.

mavis Iredale on March 1, 2013

not very helpful photographs.

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