Galle Fort’s Exotic Roots | Daily News

Galle Fort’s Exotic Roots

Galle Fort artist Catherine H believes “The core of the human life is love” something she has practiced since her free spirited childhood and summer holidays in Carnac, the South Coast of Brittany France, where she learnt about conservation and the incredible power of art on the human mind from her distinguished grandfather Henri Meho.

A cultural dynamo protecting the Brittany language from extinction. A man who received the great honour of L’Ordre De L’Hermine for his detailed and brilliant heritage work protecting monuments of great religious importance. Catherine when she was not observing her grandfather restoring old chapels would sit and watch the low and high tide of the sea, which was for ever changing the scenery around her family house overlooking Carnak beach. Like turning a kaleidoscope from low to high tide horses would come and go, while they fished on the little island opposite and watched the many different people that came and went from this very important historic port city. Arriving by sailing boat or super yachts which created a colourful back drop to a place that could trace its historic roots back to neolithic pre-Celtic times. Some say the standing stones are a Roman Legion turned to stone and this and many other mysteries are what attracted Catherine to this historically rich story telling area and perhaps the reason that the Galle Fort has kept her so captivated over the last two decades.

She believes her inner force to break out of France and see the world came from her diligent studies in Lorient, which ignited her desire to follow the universe, which she says is so brilliantly summed up in Neil Douglas-Klotz The Sufi Book Of Life “First, flashes of lightning from an unknown horizon, then rays of light ahead, finally, light all around, the full brilliance revealed, only to those who turn their senses within.” A person of passion and purpose resulted in Catherine going on a five week holiday to Sri Lanka twenty six years ago on the 10th February 1995. Intoxicated by the islands beauty and amazing history she took up painting in her garden shortly after getting married and it is here that the tropical forest, wildlife and exotic flowers became her muses.

Catherine not one to sit still for long moved to Galle and developed the most beautiful shop and art gallery in Galle Fort World Heritage site inside a stunning old merchant house on Lighthouse Street made of coral and shell walls, which she has now put on line so the whole world can enjoy the amazing art works created by herself and her two daughters Asia and Inca, that includes her stunning paintings of the fort and prints for those who want a souvenir of this ancient trading city Exotic Roots | Art & Global Homeware Store. Although her work can often be described as Tropical Modernist it can also take on the grandeur and details of the ancient map makers and philosophical wisdom of the great French thinkers.

Catherine H is known for using acrylic paint due to the rich vibrant colours that capture the spirit of the islands exotic beauty and can be seen layered on her painting table and artist palette. She explains in her studio that painting with acrylics is fantastic for giving an image texture and the fact that it drys easily in the tropics is also a bonus. The secret to her success in all things is her diversity and richness in styles from dancing aboriginal figures to serene palm trees with glittering sands, where she uses colour to uplift the viewers spirits and home interiors. On the road to the tropic in vibrant greens and oranges, a hugely successful series is just one of many examples of using different bold colour combinations that makes the viewer happy and feel a deeper connection with the island as if they were walking into a dream world.” She explains as she shows me a turtle shell she has made and is currently painting. “I paint when I am happy and for others to be uplifted. What is going to win out right now in the current disastrous pandemic is unconditional love and the very essence of the human being reconnecting to the natural world. As a French Sri Lankan artist this can be seen in her series about love Je t’aime, which are deeply romantic paintings. These sexy images bring something different to Exotic Roots and a moment that should be celebrated in everyones lives, like the moment of conception, inception and ultimately pure love.

Bringing up four children and running one of the islands most successful art galleries and boutique shops has not been easy as like so many others she has had to leave her beautiful space in the fort for now and rethink the future which includes being more on line. However not a person to be stopped in her tracks for long she has decided to do her first independent exhibition showing her art work in the Fort. She also wants to develop Exotic Roots as an International brand with prints taken from original pieces of her and her two daughters Inca and Asia’s paintings to be turned into stunning fabrics, that will also put fashion on the road to the tropics. She has already turned many of her colourful images into cards, jigsaw puzzles, stunning mugs, posters and even fashion bags with more than a certain Je ne sais quoi.

Art she feels should be a presentation of the now. Her titles are as important as the image so they resonate to all those who visit the island and enjoy the voodoo of the location and the state of mind Sri Lanka puts you into by immediately connecting you back to what is really important our exotic roots. This can be seen in the popularity of the first guide book around The Galle Fort in 80 Lives, which she illustrated the stunning book cover of with her two daughters Asia and Inca. An illustration that shows we may all live in different homes, follow different life journeys, but are ultimately ONE.

Catherine H feels it is incredibly important like her brilliant grandfather, she wants to leave important messages for future generations, encouraging us all to realise “Love is the power of everything and no one should be brainwashed by this material world. Since the Second World War commercialisation has driven the world into the abyss. Buy, buy won’t ever make you happy.” Through her art work she would love to write the solutions for the human race to live again in harmony and at one with the natural world and one another. So whether Catherine H is painting in aquamarine due to her lasting love affair with the crystal clear ocean around Sri Lanka and its mysterious hidden marine world, or splashing all the colours of the rainbow on a canvas with the lyrics from a song or a poem that has inspired her, she ultimately wants to pass on ancient wisdom, just like her grandfather did before her.

Despite the endless lockdowns she is now going to start working on her third master piece mapping the ancient Unesco World Heritage site Galle Fort, but this time with the smallest details incorporated into the wall painting such as the coral and shell walls, which are the keys to really understanding this mysterious four hundred old trading city. Hopefully the vibrancy and spirit of her work will in the process bring this beautiful old citadel back to life and be another great reason for going to Galle Fort.

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