Francis Joseph Hemashironi

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Hemashironi's practice involves intricate embroideries that engage with the perception, formation and experience of identity. A recent graduate of the Ramanadhan Fine Arts Academy at Jaffna University, Hemashironi produced a series of embroidery works that explored her role as a transitory body in relation to an ethnically diverse family, communal tensions, and the ever shifting locales she experienced as her family continued to relocate during the civil war years.

For Colomboscope Hemashironi revisits the origins of cartography — their connections to power, state building, and identity formation. The artist traces the historical mapping of Sri Lanka. She observes their evolution through the contemporary boom in coastal development and its historic depictions in maritime industry. Hemashironi's work speaks to the multiple ways in which the ocean shapes our changing relationship with land territory. These works follow the shifts in colonial dominance, sparks of rebellion, and frame the oceanic frontier to ultimately speak to the violent geographies in our centuries-old need to chart the way the world is envisioned, or the way we imagine it as a sphere of control.

Ultimately Hemashironi’s works ask what purpose maps serve geopolitically, who needs mapping practices and who benefits from these abstract icons? It is through these considerations that the labor of embroidery; historically seen as an activity reserved for women; holds a resilient resonance in this work.

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