WHEN Vancouver photographer Peter Eastwood visited Sri Lanka several years after the Asian tsunami to photograph survivors, his goal was to record their oral and visual stories.
Travelling in a tuk tuk (a motorized rickshaw), Eastwood and his translator, Wageesha Kumara, journeyed the width and length of Sri Lanka, interviewing and photographing men, women, and children who’d somehow managed to survive the devastating tsunami that killed an estimated 35,322 Sri Lankans and displaced at least 516,000.
Now, more than a decade after the tsunami, Eastwood will share their stories in his exhibit, Sri Lanka After The Tsunami, which runs April 10-21 at VisualSpace.
In Sri Lanka After The Tsunami, visitors to the gallery will “meet” 34 survivors of the Asian tsunami via Eastwood’s telling portraits. The epic loss, trauma – and, yes, even hope– can be seen in the lines of their faces, and the light in their eyes.
Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to learn more about the survivors pictured by way of translated excerpts from Eastwood’s interviews. The interviews are themselves deeply emotional and, in many cases, heartbreaking and terrifying. A 10-minute film of the survivors will also run throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Eastwood has compiled the stories and photographs into a book, which will be sold at the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. Profits from sales of the book, as well as from prints and postcards, will benefit the maintenance of the tsunami museum in Telwatte, Sri Lanka.
“It has been a long and emotional journey for me.” says Eastwood. “I feel that through this exhibition, we can help remind people of the terrible suffering that the people of Sri Lanka endured on that fateful day.”
Sri Lanka After The Tsunami runs April 10-21 at VisualSpace Gallery (3352 Dunbar Street, Vancouver). For more information, visit www.visualspace.ca or call 604-889-2504.