"I am dark, I know. Not easy to digest, I know that too. Yes, I am talking. It is not that I cannot talk. It's just, I prefer a piece of charcoal on a paper, or a brush on a canvas way more than the loud sound come from my mouth. Maybe because I know, if I try to voice what I want to say in words - it will turn into a never ending scream that might mute you and make you deaf within seconds, and that too if I'm able to translate my feelings to words.

It is not easy to find light in darkness or show myself in shadows through the dim light left in me. Don't look at me if it is not pretty for you, or those rough lines bother you. But please do not try to silence me with ton lot of colours and the bright light you have."

Artist Statement

My artwork is primarily inspired by the human face, emotions and the stories they carry in the lines and shadows unique to each and every person. It is specifically motivated by my passion for activism regarding the right to mental healthcare. As a woman from Sri Lanka, I personally experience the stigma and unavailability of the mental healthcare industry in Asia.

In Europe, I found needed support through methods that did not include drugs. Art therapy became my most significant discovery and refuge from mental suffering. But today art plays a more prominent role in my life and the activism I have dedicated my life to standing up for the right to mental healthcare in Sri Lanka with the intention to expand the project through south Asia. Today around 1 in 7 people have one or more mental or substance use disorders. But these statistics can dramatically change if every person who is faced with mental issues seeks professional support. In Asia due to the stigma, fear of judgement and the very poor healthcare system that does not support the mental healthcare demands, most people tend to hide their illnesses of mental nature till their life ends in a tragedy. Therefore, the suicide rate is high in our corner of the world and even the people who seek help end up getting heavily medicated, and sedated for the rest of their lives rather than addressing the underlying issues or processing their trauma.

My artwork explores the idea that maybe the stories we are not able to voice can be found in the emotions they express through the lines, eyes, and shadows on their face. On the other hand, as the person who holds the charcoal or brush, the artist gets the opportunity to express their oppressed emotions through the face they sketch or paint. This exchange of emotions and feelings and the speechless communication you experience in the process of this artwork, present to you a positive, beautiful platform to express, and start a discussion about human emotions, feelings and our hidden stories. And use the artworks as a tool of much-needed therapy, an exercise of mindfulness and a form of meditation. End of it all you are gifted with the artwork itself which you and the society can enjoy and be inspired by for the rest of the time.

My goal with these projects is to promote Art therapy and other drug-free therapy methods and create platforms to discuss the importance and beauty of expressing the oppressed emotions feelings and stories through art before they haunt us as trauma. The possibility of processing the most graphic, unpleasant traumatic experiences of our lives through a beautiful, harmless process of creating art excites me. Therefore, I am motivated to share it and develop it through this work. I keep portraying the hidden stories of human emotions, untold stories with the intention to voice them and process the memories later in the beautiful opportunity that artwork creates.

Interview by Sunil Raj Dhakal & Sunil Poudel