Thirsika Jeyapalan

Trish is from London and did a Foundation at the Richmond upon Thames College. She was the studio rep for painting, and did the exchange module in Stuttgart, Germany. She is engaged with Tamil diaspora activism on the Tamil Struggle in Sri Lanka. In 2019, she had work in the show which she helped organise, ‘Tamils of Lanka’, with the Tamil Information Centre in London.

My art has always revolved around my conflicting identities, directly referencing scenes from the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983 – 2009) between the minority ethnic group, the Tamils, and the Sri Lankan Government and certain aspects of being in the diaspora as a second-generation British-Eelam Tamil. As a young Tamil Activist, I keenly attend protests, read and discuss Sri Lankan Politics. I reflect on my memories from my last visit to my homeland, three years after the war ended. My practice predominantly uses oil paint. I also use film to comment on events in Sri Lanka. I am constantly battling with positioning political themes within my paintings in a way that is not didactic: the recent elections; the disappearances; the discrimination against Tamils; these are ongoing human rights violations that I continue to address. The surface of the canvas explores a field of abstraction but remains anchored by strong narrative elements. 

Due to the lockdown, and being away from home made me miss my mother’s food, this feeling of craving her food made me cook my mother’s recipes and documenting it regularly. I then realised how food made me feel especially in these times, it made me feel happy and sane.  My practice has shifted away from the Tamil Struggle and Sri Lankan Politics during Lockdown. However, I feel that Tamil food is an integral part of our culture and it is political. Food also highlights the language of love and the resistance of the Tamil diaspora. Being a second-generation Tamil and continuing to cook Tamil food itself it is a resistance and grounding me to my roots. 

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