Friday, May 12, 2017

Underwater adventures

I’m a terrible swimmer and deep waters always scare me! But you can’t go to the Maldives and not go snorkelling!

I took a trip to the amazing island ‘Vadoo’ in the Maldives, just a few minutes away from the main island. The ocean was breathtakingly beautiful and so inviting – I just couldn’t say ‘no!’. The water wasn’t deep at all but I still wore a life jacket along with my flippers and snorkel. As embarrassing as it was - I didn’t really care because I just wanted to enjoy the experience and not have to worry about drowning! 

I had never been snorkelling so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As I stepped in to the water I realized that there was a demarcated area which ended at a large reef which was the ‘safe zone’. This was somewhat comforting and helped to ease my nerves a bit. I walked in to the sea as it wasn't too deep and as I reached the edge of the reef I put my face in to the water. In a second I had been transported to a completely different world! There were hundreds of stunningly beautiful fish among layers and layers of coral.

There were too many different kinds of fish to count and I can’t remember them all but a few of them really stood out because of their amazing colour schemes and characteristics. The Moorish Idol is a very small fish but its black, white and yellow stripes stand out very prominently among the rest of the fish. 

The Parrot fish is another stunning fish which is a lovely shade of teal which is one of my favorite colours! The Parrot fish seemed to be the most active and they kept swimming up and down nibbling at the different parts of the reef. I was amazed at how clear the water was and how friendly the fish seemed. They didn’t seem to mind me invading their space at all! This is probably because they didn’t feel threatened by humans because the Maldives has a strict policy about fishing within a certain radius. Their laws against fishing close to the shore are what has helped to preserve beautiful coral reefs such as these.

There were also large shoals of fish that swam back and forth which just added to the wonder of this underwater world! I was so inspired by all I saw that I just had to put together a series of illustrations based on my experience. I was constantly on the lookout for some seahorses but I didn’t spot any. I got to know later on that there have been a few recent sightings in the waters near a different island called Kuredu which I’m hoping to visit at some point.

Although glimpses of the deep, dark ocean on the other side of the coral reef made me panic just a bit, I enjoyed every second of this experience and it taught me a valuable lesson. Too often we allow different types of fears to hold us back but it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish or experience once you make up your mind to let go of your fear. Most times we feel that fear has a grip on us but in reality we have the power to make up our minds to let them go. I haven’t completely got over my fear of deep waters but I think I’ve taken a step in the right direction and I believe that this was only the first of many more underwater adventures to come!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The beauty of imperfection

I recently moved to the Maldives and I'm based in the heart of Malé, the capital. When people hear the word ‘Maldives’ they immediately think of the clear blue ocean and white sandy beaches! Although I have experienced that side of the Maldives, I am also experiencing a very different side of it.

Malé is very small and there is a main road called Majeedhee Magu that runs right across the island. I walk down a portion of it everyday and I can’t help but notice all the inspiring textures and colours along the way. Most people in Malé live in their ancestral homes and a lot of the buildings have been there for centuries. Each house has a name and a story behind it and they are all painted and decorated differently, yet there is something that ties them all together. I feel that there is so much beauty and depth in things that are not perfect and it seems as though the Maldivian residents down this particular road feel the same way – especially about the exterior of their homes.

Chipped paint and wood rot doesn’t seem to bother them in the least. As a result, most walls have layers and layers of peeled off paint that has created amazing colour combinations and textures through the years. To me they look like abstract paintings by famous artists! 

The salty air probably doesn’t help much with maintaining buildings. Most of the doorways and windows are warped and falling apart yet they have been preserved and held together in such interesting ways! The doors and windows also have layers of wood and paint and there is something so unique and beautiful about them! It’s almost like each layer tells a different story of a different time.

Even simple elements like bricks along the sidewalk or even the pipes that run along the sides of the buildings look like little pieces of modern art. As an artist, colour and texture is very important to me and these are definitely some samples that are going in to my scrap book for future reference! These sightings may not be the typical things that people come to the Maldives to see but these buildings act as a sort of a time capsule, transporting people back in time in an instant. They are also examples of the fact that things don’t always have to be perfect to be beautiful or inspiring. Sometimes imperfection can be even more intriguing and beautiful! 


I was so inspired by these colours and textures that I put together a collection of art based on what I saw. Layers of old paint, rust, moss and wood rot with pops of bright coloured elements. My collection of butterflies is symbolic of beauty that can be found in imperfection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The origins of ‘Bakamuna’

For centuries the owl has been recognized as a symbol of wisdom and mystery. The nocturnal bird of prey has been a part of many ancient cultures and people have been drawn to them from the beginning of time. Ancient symbols and drawings of this bird have been discovered in many parts of the world. This is probably because they can be found across almost every continent. As a result, owls have also become a part of art and creativity as well. People of any race or culture can immediately relate to the owl and it’s interesting to see how each culture depicts them differently based on their beliefs. Their forward facing eyes and large ears set them apart from the rest of their kind.

The word ‘Bakamuna’ is derived from a village in Sri Lanka that is known for its arts and crafts. More importantly however, it is also the Sinhalese word for ‘owl’. The owl has a lot of negativity attached to it in the Sri Lankan culture. This may be because people have feared this dark, mysterious bird as most people fear things they don’t understand. As a result, the owl has not been incorporated in to many ancient designs or drawings in Sri Lanka. Therefore, I decided to illustrate my own version of a ‘Sri Lankan’ owl by merging elements of ancient design in to the illustration. My journey as an illustrator began with this owl and it inspired me to create many other illustrations to follow. 

My fascination with owls first began when I was very little. I used to visit my grandaunt in Kandy, Sri Lanka during my school break. She travelled a lot and her house was full of ornaments and paintings of owls from around the world. I was fascinated by the fact that this one bird can be interpreted, drawn, molded and sculpted in so many different ways and forms by so many artists. I used to spend hours just walking around her house and observing each one of them. As I grew older, I realized that I had a lot in common with this creature. I was quiet in nature and very observant of everyone and everything around me. I would also be awake through the nights – especially when I had a creative project to complete. Somehow I felt that my mind and my creativity came alive in the silence of the night and some of my best ideas came to me when the rest of the world was asleep. I had unknowingly transformed in to somewhat of a night owl!

The brand name ‘Bakamuna’ is a result of the connection I’ve had with the owl right through my life. It was important to me that there was an illustration of an owl in the Bakamuna logo mostly because I wanted it to stand for all the positive things the owl represents such as observance, wisdom and creativity. I also wanted anyone from anywhere in the world to be able to relate to it. All Bakamuna designs and illustrations are created through inspiration and a mixture of different mediums is used to put them together.

At Bakamuna our mission is to create, connect and collaborate. We create mixed media illustrations that are unique, we connect with our audience by allowing them to express themselves through art and we collaborate with the Bakamuna community helping them to celebrate life with art! All our illustrations are based on inspiration drawn from a wide range of sources like the natural environment, indigenous cultures from around the world and elements of dance and music.