A multiple award winner
By Sanuj Hathurusinghe
Ceylon Today Features
The common belief is that we are all put on this God's green Earth to serve some purpose. Some find it easily, some struggle finding it and some don't believe in it altogether. This however, is not an article about the purpose of life or how to find your true calling. This is about a man who has found his purpose at such a young age and who has devoted his life to his passion.
G. G. Indika Udayanga knew his calling was wood carving, when he held a chisel for the first time at a very young age. "For as far back as I can remember I have been involved with wood carving. My dad used to say that even at the age of seven I was there in his workshop getting the hang of all the woodcarving tools there," says Udayanga.
His father too was a woodcarver, and he of course, was the one who introduced Udayanga to woodcarving. The influence was enough to awaken the talent Udayanga held within and he too was eager to make a career out of his talent. After finishing his O levels, Udayanga dived in, headfirst, into the world of woodcarving and has never looked back ever since.
Udayanga works from home. His workshop is there in his own house and he is his own boss. With no one hovering over him giving instructions, Udayanga works in peace for the better part of almost every day from as early as 6:30 in the morning until as late as four in the evening, lunch and tea breaks excluded. Four in the evening might not sound that late for many of us but to Udayanga, it is as late as he could work because he prefers to work in daylight. "Working under artificial light is said to be not very good for your eyes. In this line of work, we depend on our eyes, a lot. I generally don't work deep into the evening, but sometimes I do, only if there is a special order that is urgent" says Udayanga.
Udayanga uses Athdemata wood quite often as a material. Athdemata, being light and easy on the chisel makes it an ideal material for Udayanga's intricate carvings. "Not just Athdemata but I also use Mahogany, White Sandalwood and Ebony wood. Sometimes the material we use depends on the customer's preference. We carvers have special permission from the State Timber Corporation to use Ebony wood," says Udayanga.
All kinds of wood carvings come out of Udayanga's workshop. The end products are, most of the time, results of customer preferences but Udayanga admits he seeks inspiration in religion and history more than often. Most of his creations reflect this influence.
His work is meticulous, intricate and highly detailed. The smooth and silky finish and the acute symmetry of his creations do create a doubt in the bewildered minds of the average observer whether some sort of machinery aided the process. Despite the popular doubt, Udayanga assures that no machinery whatsoever is used in the process. From the first hammer on the chisel to the last swipe of the sand paper, it is all done by Udayanga's hand, no matter how large the artefact is.
Another attribute of Udayanga's works of art is that he tries to leave the original characteristics of the material as is. He avoids painting details on his statues with colours. A wood preservative is sometimes applied and the most Udayanga would compromise is a single natural wood colour. Udayanga believes the colours and features of the material, wood, complementing the skills of the carver, should be there intact, for it to be a complete artefact. Applying wood preservatives is a precautionary measure but Udayanga says a properly kept statue, away from moisture at least, would last an indefinite time and would not need any preservatives either.
One of his recent creations, a statue of Teaching Buddha (a cross-legged Buddha statue bearing 'Dharmachakra Mudra') has taken two months of Udayanga's labour to be completed. The detailed statue looked as if it came out of a mould rather than carved out of wood. The complete statue made out of Athdemata wood has won the Presidential Award (Gold) in the recently concluded 'Shilpa Abhimani' National Handcrafts Competition.
Udayanga is no stranger to awards. His whole career is a trophy-laden one. His very first entry to a national handcrafts competition, way back in '97, won a Presidential award. In '99 again he won all island first and second places in the national handcrafts competition and
managed to win the first place in the following year as well. In 2009, he won his very first Presidential Gold Award. He went on to win the Presidential Gold awards in the following two years as well. His hat-trick of awards marks a special record in 'Shilpa Abhimani' history. Organizers fearing the pattern would continue if Udayanga continued to enter the competition, asked him to take a break from the competition so that other emerging talents would have a platform to earn repute. As instructed, Udayanga took a long break after the 2011 competition, which he broke by entering again in 2017. Despite the five-year absence, Udayanga's addition to the latest instalment of the competition won him another Presidential Gold award.
When asked how he prepares an entry for a national competition, Udayanga said that the years of winning the award has polished his 'competition sense' as well. Now he knows what the organizers are looking for and he is almost certain that his piece would go on to win the best prize there is, even before the competition.
Despite having 22 years of professional experience in woodcarving, Udayanga is a 39 years young bachelor. Married to his passion, woodcarving, Udayanga hopes of giving birth to more and more quality works of art. "I don't have many pieces with me now as they get sold pretty quickly. I plan to create more good pieces, collect them and open an art gallery of my own" reveals Udayanga of his hopes.
Udayanga also hopes to go global one day. He firmly believes the talents of local artistes are more than on par with the rest of the world. In 2008, Udayanga got the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka in a global craftsmanship competition held in Russia. The competition saw entries from 61 different countries and Udayanga managed to win a bronze medal for the country. "Despite the bronze medal, I think Sri Lankan craftsmen were the best among all the entries. The only difference is that we don't have proper technology and recognition. If those are provided, our artistes are more than capable of competing at any international level, and can win easily" says Udayanga with confidence.
- Once Parliament convenes on 23rd JO to grill Govt on Bonds scam When will legal action be taken?
- Sunday Leader Editor murder case Intelligence men seen loitering near Lasantha’s office CID
- Ensure a free and fair election AAGGSL Urges public to elect honest candidates
- Elimination of bribery and corruption National Action Plan discussed
- Lankan jailed in UAE after FB post
- US helping SL to counter human trafficking
- 73-election law violations and 168 election related complaints 21 candidates among 197 arrested
- Seat belts and air bags compulsory from July
- Torture and Enforced Disappearances EU-SL JC insists on zero tolerance Wants PTA repealed and CCP amended
- If Ranil removed from Premiership UNPers threaten to impeach Prez
- Prez hints at being afflicted by Mahinda syndrome
- Rupee weakens 40 cents amidst uncertainty
- Udayanga has Rs 94M in 8 bank accounts FCID
- Malaka surrenders to Court Arrest warrant recalled
- To iron out SLFP-UNP issues in Yahapalana Govt Forming of advisory council proposed SLFP and UNP Ministers to discuss this week
- Obtaining bribe to release dead body 2 fmr MoH janitors sentenced to 8 years
- CIABOC withdraws charges Aluthgamage released from Case
- Rejection of Maharagama UC nominations SC throws out SLPP petition CoA postpones 14 petitions to 24th
- JVP tells President Show results of Op 1 before Op 2 COPE Chair lacks faith in AG
- Will Legal Action be taken to recover bonds scam loss? Corruption Watchdogs express concern
- PM’s special statement on bonds scam Rs 12B PTL assets under CB control Frozen assets to be used to regain Rs 9.2B loss
- Rift between SLFP and UNP Investors feel country unstable - SLID Chairman
- Approx 60 candidates unsuited for LG
- Failure to probe financial misconduct CIABOC charges ex-CJ Mohan Peiris with corruption
- PRECIFAC Report Majority implicated are SLFPers- Amaraweera
- Svitolina ends dream of teen
- Sainz stays on Dakar title course
- Federer says get on with it
- New Zealand beat Pakistan in clean sweep
- North Western Archery C’ship Wayamba Royal International School holds contest
- ‘Singer Cup’ U-13 Division 1 Cricket Three schools advance to semis
- National athletes petitioned to IOC over controversial athletes’ commission
- Homeboys Kandy tough to beat on own turf
- Army favoured to win
- India rout Zimbabwe
- Impressive England beat Australia
- Bangladesh humiliate Sri Lanka Beat SL by 163 runs
- Thriller at Welisara when Navy meet CR
- Premier League Cricket – Tier ‘B’ Rodrigo scores another ton
- Premier League Cricket Serasinghe scores second ton
- Sri Lanka batters fail
- Chelsea edge into FA Cup fourth round
- Missed Messi penalty cost Barca in cup derby defeat
- Neymar scores four as Cavani matches Zlatan record
- Crowd behaves badly as prankster halts play
- Dollar hurt by US shutdown fears Treasury yields at highest since 2014
- HSBC to pay $101.5M to settle currency rigging probe
- This might be the most sustainable stock market bubble ever
- Amazon narrows second headquarters search to 20 cities
- Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick A billionaire after $8bn investment deal
- IBM’s sales grew for the first time in 5 years
- South Korean group files complaint against Apple CEO over iPhone slowdown
- Sweet Surprise: Pink Kit-Kats for Valentine’s
- Competition in the digital age How to tame the tech titans The dominance of Google, Facebook and Amazon is bad for consumers and competition
- 'Text bomb' is latest Apple bug
- Intel fix causes reboots and slowdowns
- SL calls for managers to sell US$ 2B in sovereign bonds
- Poorest 20% gets 5.6%, richest 20% gets 50.4%
- No attempts to remove PUCSL members: Power Secretary
- Agreement with China, UN for fruit production
- Time for SL to become apparel distribution centre: JAAF Chairman SL should enter FTA with China and capitalize on its outsourcing plan
- Airbus Superjumbo jet’s future secured by Emirates order
- ‘Spot’ falls on political uncertainty
- Shares tumble further
- Asian shares mixed as China data comes in
- Achieving true lasting reconciliation
- Dying art of sending postcards
- The Pursuit of Peace Starting at SCOPP
- The Oddest President Ever!
- The day august assembly went to the dogs
- Evolution of India’s Constitutional and Democratic Polity Part ii
- Sex trafficking in US massage parlours A $2.5 billion business, study finds
- ‘Jallikattu’ Syndrome: Expression of ethnic angst
- Big brands unite to fight slavery in Asia Banks to casinos unite in fight
- Evolution of India’s Constitutional and Democratic Polity
- If given power We’ll develop country in two years -Chandrasiri Mahagamage
- Upcoming LG Elections a referendum
- No political solution for Tamil grievances in sight – Ananthy Sasitharan
- Division in SLFP main reason for UNP victory
- We don’t endorse Basil’s leadership
- National Prosperity Turning the Tide
- Disposable coffee cups:British lawmakers call for “latte levy”
- If only we could crackdown on the root causes to effect sustainable solutions Herein lies a Nation’s progress
- Planetary combines that foreshadow misfortune for father
- Pirith chants for abundant harvest
- Venus into Capricorn
- Vastu and Domestic Animals
- Yoga for Children and Adults with Disabilities
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Trump’s ‘madman’ ACT scared N. Korea to talks
- Calls for ‘revenge’ Israeli settler killed in attack
- Banning of Colombo Journal First English Newspaper
- Sri Lankan author publishes for the world
- Broadway brought to our own shores
- Celebrating the harvest