The Covid-19 Pandemic may not be everyone’s favourite topic at the moment, as it devastated a lot of people’s lives in the worst way possible. But for Pramitha, the global contagion was but a blessing in disguise in his fingertips, a doorway to creativity discovering masterpieces of art. Acknowledge that the pandemic itself is a major setback against the development of people, but it also allowed some of them whose confined spaces were barring them from seeing the horizon for so long to finally channel them selves into more observance, to build up something bigger.
After a hiatus of many years, Pramitha began his career as a journalist and later as a professional in the field of IT, with an arrow in his hand pointed in the direction of success in life. Pramitha too went a little beyond the field of computers and gadgets and picked up a brush, reawakening the sleeping artist in his conscience, while the pandemic swarmed over the globe.
Pramitha Sagarage, the protagonist in our story, makes most of the time he has to stay home than usual during his workday, entertaining many through the brushstrokes he paints your imaginations into.
Pramitha is a born talent in art and shares a history of colourful brushstrokes, earning a lot of satisfaction upon his contribution to the inner peace of others. His Social Media portfolio known as “The Art Gallery Sri Lanka” unravels a temple of tranquillity holding the still canvasses of this most young and talented artist. We paid a visit to The Art Gallery Sri Lanka and talked with Pramitha, to learn a little bit of insight.
Let us talk about you first
My name is Pramitha Saratha Sagarage. Right now, I work in the IT sector. I had my basic education in Mahanama College, Colombo. Then I completed my higher education in IT at the University of Dublin,Ireland. At present I am working in one of the top IT companies in the country. Talking about family, I have my Mom and Dad. By now I am married. My wife is also a graduate of the University of Kelaniya. She is not currently employed. And we have a two-year-old son.
How and when did you recognise your ability to draw?
I have been drawing since I was little. I was someone who was drawing as long as I could remember. I drew the background at school festivals, especially at Mahanama College Art Festival, on a number of occasions. I have been drawing for art exhibitions since I was a child. School-centric competitions have been put forward for Dhamma school competitions. I also won awards. So, I have been involved in various activities related to art since then.
Did you refer yourself to studying the basics of the subject?
The studying was done during school, but no further study was done on it since then. I had my Advanced Levels in Mathematics. I did art as an aesthetic subject up to the Ordinary Levels. I should specially be remembering Miss Kumari and Nimal Sir at school. These two teachers were in charge of the art subject in our school. I learned a lot from both of them. It is not limited to the GCE Ordinary Level Examination. Those two teachers gave us the knowledge we get in Advanced Levels at the moment itself. In school we learned practically everything from colour resolution to shapes. Miss Kumari and Nimal Sir shared with us the knowledge they gained at university when we drew at school art festivals. From there I got a lot of insight into art.
Then why did you decide to choose a different path in your career instead of continuing with Art?
This was basically due to social pressure. It exists even today. There is uncertainty in the future of art education such as art after the GCE Ordinary Level examination. The question arose as to whether there was a market for it in the country, even if it was chosen professionally from the working conditions. There is this socially perceived notion in our country that social security exists only in a job like a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. It really affected me too. I was basically caught in the middle of that wave. This was why I put a halt into my art career after the Ordinary Levels and continued with the Mathematics Stream. I built up a career there too.
For a time, you worked as a journalist in the Radio Media. In the meantime, you were learning more about Information Technology, not about Communication and Media.
Later, with the completion of those educational activities, the profession could change. How did these fit together?
I joined the media field because I loved it. I worked in the broadcasting unit of the school. After I left school, I joined a radio station during my higher education. I first joined Siyatha Radio, as a trainee news reporter and an broadcaster. Mr. Udithamal Hemachandra was the News Director there. He is helping me even today. I lean forward in the Radio Media upon his advice. Later I worked as a news anchor at SinhaFM. I waived my media career in NethFM. I served as a news broadcaster, a news reporter and an editor. These three companies helped me a lot. But I had no intention of continuing my career as a journalist. I did it only as my hobby. Ever since I was in school, I have had the desire to broadcast a story on the radio. Professionally, I wanted to advance in IT because I studied mathematics. So, I studied IT. That educational oppression was removed by working in the media. I enjoyed it. I kept everything in balance. At the moment I am using art to ease the pressure of working in the IT sector.
But now that old artist is back. Don't you think the Covid pandemic has brought you back to what
I am not saying that Covid is good. It’s a bad thing for everyone. As a result, many of us were confined to our homes. Currently, I work from home. So, I have saved the time which I had to spend to get ready to go to the office in the morning, time to get back home from the office, in addition to the time I spend on the road. Taking advantage of that time, I started drawing again. But it's not really about starting a business. I started drawing to spend for the time I have left aesthetically.
How did you pave the path to draw again? How did the idea come?
My wife was my biggest support here. She knew I had the ability to draw. She had spent the money she had collected and brought some canvas. She gave it to me and told me to pull something out of this. That's how I first started. She is still a source of strength to me today. When I draw a picture, the first person to experience it is my wife. She sees the shortcomings. She even tells me about colours. We started ''The Art Gallery Sri Lanka'' Facebook page and the marketing side of this business is completely
taken care by my wife. It's a little hard to find time to do other things with my job. It's really tiring. The alumni of my school are also very supportive. School friends including the 2009 Advanced Level batch of Mahanama College, Colombo. We do almost all of the advertising here on Social Media. My school friends are very supportive. At present a foreign market is being created for us. I have had the opportunity to send paintings to Canada. Rajitha Shyamal should be specially mentioned there. He was a friend of mine at school.
Even though it has not been for so long you have made great progress in your painting. You are sharing it with the society instead of experiencing it alone. You have a market building in this short period of time. Let's talk about that.
We have really given priority to wall decorations. As we gradually developed this, my wife and I actually did a little study together on how the market behaves here. We talked about this with various parties. We talked to hoteliers, people in apartment complexes, people in ordinary houses. We explored their taste as well as the demand for these paintings. I studied the level of designs currently
on the market. A common point seen here is that the majority is limited to one set of designs. With that we started to create something different. Here at first, I thought about pleasing the eye. Satisfying the eye means pleasing the mind beyond that. We enjoy a lot inside art. Those who are addicted to it know about that experience. This art is a part of their lives. It was with this different pull that the market opened up for us.
The other thing is that we make any design that the customer asks for. We create as much as we want,according to their wishes. I usually send the sketch and ask about the desired changes and make the necessary changes. They can still come and check the changes while we are painting. I try to give the customer who comes to us what they want as the end result. Because we both need to be satisfied. If not, what I do will not work. We talk about prices as well. That's the decent thing to do, and it should
end there. This is not something that is done for big profit. We talk to the customer's budget and create the desired. I run this in the fairest way possible.
Can you talk about your future plans with '' The Art Gallery Sri Lanka ''?
I intend to expand this. I cannot only paint with the job I'm doing. Because I don't have enough time. I have an idea to contact people who can draw. There are plenty of people who have the ability to draw. I don’t expect them to be at the university level. There are those who have not studied art as a subject but can draw. I hope to contact a few people who have that ability. We also hope to create a website soon.
There is another idea, art is something that can give mental healing. There is a subject in the world called Art Therapy. Israel is the world leader in art therapy. We hope to focus on that aspect and build an art academy with young children. My wife is also a Sociology graduate. She has also studied psychology. I have an idea to start an academy with her contribution. This is how time changes people. That is how nature paves the way for them to share their talents with others and society without limiting themselves to them. A society that is getting tired day by day needs to be cooled down and healed somewhere. It needs to create spaces. It must be mentally motivated. Accordingly, this road is being paved to a place that heals restless human beings.
We invite you to enjoy it as you desire.