A lesson in… Finding Your Acid. Part II.

“There are essentially two questions in life – a spiritual question and a material question. The spiritual question is ‘Who am I?’ The material question is ‘What am I to do with my life?’ One leads to the other.”
Rasheed Ogunlaru

So I guess from the above quote, I should conclude that the majority of unhappy human beings in the Western world are not merging their answers to these questions? Pah I dunno. My brain has melted – here it is though… my finished article. It would most probably be in my best interest to go to sleep now and look over this in the morning. But I have to say that my mind already feels lighter than when I left London a few days ago.


Finding My Acid… My Serendip… Myself.

Everyone has their own personal ‘acid’; you know- that ‘thing’ within yourself which keeps you breathing on this big, beautiful Earth. Some people are fortunate enough to have more than one acid within their soul – but for me, it’s that feeling of seeing a blank white canvas… the tubes of vibrant gouache paint… followed by letting my imagination loose on the concoction of colours created with a fine black ink pen….

Do you want to know a secret? When I was 18 and set off for University, I took what seemed to be the easy option and promised myself I would never go back to creating art; I thought that was the best decision ever because I didn’t have to deal with the ‘don’t waste your life’ lectures many Tamils love to give… and boy did I get a LOT of those growing up. So a few years later, my Future was most definitely sorted; Biochemistry degree almost over, a lovely little lab or office waiting for the insanely mature version of me- and I was looking forward to it. It was at that almost perfect point that I went through a pretty major life changing event. You may hear me talk about it sometimes in a really nonchalant manner, but let’s just say that I had to re-evaluate my existence, building myself up again as if I were a house of cards blown away in the wind.

The latter half of 2011 was when I started creating art again – but not because I wanted to, more like I needed to. Damn I was scared though. Wait, maybe more like terrified. My head was filled with a whole load of negative ‘what ifs…?’ The thing is, when your soul is pierced in the worst way by pain, it’s also looking for something equally as awesome to counteract and rebuild itself. It goes back to basics when looking for things which make the heart sing – I guess it remembered the 5 year old me with paint all over my school uniform.

This simple act of pen to paper got my mind buzzing like nothing else on Earth could for so long. It gave me that ‘high’ which so many people search for in the wrong places and made me feel strong again. You know those dreams where you find yourself flying and it’s the best feeling ever – that’s the sensation I get even now when creating art. I realised after the first few doodles in that coffee shop at the age of 21 that I had finally found my Acid.

Right now, I am working on my current series, which follows a young sari wearing girl throughout her adventures in mind, body and spirit. I guess my art, as well as saving my sanity, has also created this yearning within me to understand my roots. Throughout the Civil War, so many Tamils were pushed to all corners of the Earth and to careers which nowhere near do justice to their intelligence and ambitions. I was born in Jaffna and consider myself very fortunate for my earliest memories to be of Sri Lanka; holding my Appa’s hand to go and milk the cows, being terrified of all the puppies we had, peeking through a hole in the wall of the Sellamahal Theatre trying to watch the films. My Appa also loves his early memories of our country and talks about his youth so much. He is now terminally ill with progressive Motor Neuron Disease, yet he says that the degradation of his muscles opened his mind…and I see that. His ‘you’re wasting your Life, you should have become a Doctor’ quotes are now replaced with ‘go out there and show the World what Tamils can achieve’.

Like many other Tamils, my Family risked their lives to save their children from witnessing the same horrors they did… which saw my 3 year old self arriving in London town. So if the extremist politicians who messed up our country thought that we, as the future generations of Tamils, wouldn’t care about our culture, our heritage, our people or that we would forget our Serendip* – the most beautiful gem of the Indian Ocean – then we will show them that our intelligence, talents and determination are not lost. And my current paintings are just the start of my own personal journey to my Sri Lanka. (If you know me, you’re probably thinking, ‘when did she get so darn patriotic?!’ haha – I guess I can say that I finally found myself).

Sometimes Life throws you a massive curve ball to make you realise that the things you thought you wanted from your years on this Earth weren’t really your dreams at all. I almost settled for the safe, ordinary Life and missed out on meeting extraordinary people on my travels to exhibit across oceans. And I thank God every day for blessing me with the courage to throw all the ‘what ifs’ out the window, so I keep going with unleashing the products of my Acid into the World. Lastly, to quote a great friend, “Never ever give up on Your talent, because it never gave up on You.” X

*Serendip; name for the island of Sri Lanka, Arabic in origin. The word ‘serendipity’ was formed in the English language after the Persian fairy tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’.


A lesson in… finding Your Acid.

Thoughts will lead you in circles. Silence will bring you back to your centre.
― Rasheed Ogunlaru


So here I am in my hotel room in Cornwall. Voice literally still nowhere to be heard (I’ve lost it) and trying to bathe my mind in silence to get it back.

Meanwhile, a Tamil student organisation has asked me to write a short article about my artwork – why I started painting etc… What on Earth do I say? I have always found it difficult expressing my thoughts about my art, so how do I start to tell my own community of the reasons behind going against every sane bone in my body. It is pretty insane really – even Steve Jobs (the incredibly inspiring ‘iphone guy’) said it- that those of us who try to make a living out of our passions are crazy. We have to be to slog through the initial money problems, rejections, unimaginable hours of hard work when others our age are out on Friday nights. But hey, I have all the time in the world right now to create, dissect and maximise the potential impact this article could make on someone’s life out there. So here we go…