The fourth mural of the Fearless Collective, which creates public art centering on women and underrepresented communities, was unveiled in Slave Island on Monday (15). The mural portrays several women living in the building the artists have painted on, or are in close vicinity to it.
“Some of the ladies were ridiculed for having their faces up on the wall by people in the area,” Minal Wickrematunge, one of the lead artists of the mural, told Roar Media. “It was mostly men who were trying to question the women on what they had achieved to be painted up on this wall.”
“This back and forth eventually led to the women taking a strong and defiant stance,” she said. “They insisted that we keep painting – some even painted their own faces and joined us up on the cherry picker! The women proclaimed that their existence alone was worthy of this large, colourful mural!”
Wickrematunge and Vicky Shahjehan are the Sri Lankan ambassadors of the Fearless Collective, which creates public art centring on women and underrepresented communities. The Collective has created over 49 public murals in 16 countries. The Slave Island/Kompannavidiya mural is the fourth in Sri Lanka.
“Our mural is based in Kompannavidiya, an area that in recent times, has been under increasing threat of dislocation,” they said. “Many communities that have lived here for decades are being forced to move, in line with the new ‘development’ plans. This mural is a reminder that these communities also matter and more so, belong to this land.”
“They are all residents of Slave Island,” Wickrematungae said. “Some sustain their own, single-parent homes, others are community leaders that devote a large proportion of their time towards helping other members of the community. Most of these women have been vastly affected by displacement since their childhood, and the majority of them are minorities that represent the diverse community of Slave Island.”
The mural took a week to workshop and prep, and was completed with the help of a team of volunteer artists, technical assistants and others. “After this, we spent one day fine-tuning the final image and five days of painting to finish the mural!”