I believe that a like-minded group of people working in and/or with an interest in the many areas of the decorative arts will join this forum for discussion and dissemination of knowledge in the field. Given my background in the history of the decorative arts and design, I feel I can am freely share my areas of interest with others, while discovering and researching new areas. Although primarily research is of Sri Lankan origin, the LDA is international in its scope and links to countries and cultures that have interacted with the island from ancient times to the present. Ancient Sri Lanka throughout history was an active part of a great crossroads-culture that brought together traders and travelers from ancient lands, and became a center for the inter-exchange of ideas and technology. Sri Lanka produced its own highly skilled artisans, and attracted craftspeople from varied cultures that sustained the ancient trade routes of the sea and land. The artisans provided the royalty and courts of its ancient kingdoms with various luxury objects.
A brief account on my background will suffice. My undergraduate degree from Central Saint Martin's College of Art, Department of Costume and Textiles, London, UK, was completed many years ago. In 2000, I completed a MA in the History of the Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture, from the Bard Graduate Center, New York, which offered an intensive interdisciplinary program that was launched in 1993 as a graduate program of Bard College, a progressive college in Annandale, NY. After graduating from this program I worked at the BGC in the Visual Media Resource Department, as associate curator of the department, and learnt a lot of new digital technology, which enriched my art history studies. My museum experience comes from a long internship at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in the department of African Art.
Returning to Colombo in 2006 my husband and I restored our one hundred plus year old colonial era bungalow to make it our office, study, studio and home. I found a great need to be back in my foundation culture to immerse myself in something meaningful for the rest of my life, and focus on the study of the decorative arts. In the last few years I completed a digital documentation project on the decorative arts of Sri Lanka mainly on the furniture of the colonial period, and organized and coordinated the 2008 and 2009 international workshops in Colombo on the decorative arts. Currently I am researching furniture and the decorative arts of pre-European Sri Lanka.
The LDA is a group of professionals, scholars, and people with an interest in the decorative arts, who will participate in lectures, workshops, and symposia, that includes discussion and dissemination of various aspects of the decorative arts of the island, covering all historical periods. Decorative arts is not an isolated study, it is an interdisciplinary study that brings together and draws from art and art history, history, social history, material culture, design, design history, archeology, anthropology, architecture and other areas.
LDA Board of Management
Earlier called the Minor Arts or Applied Arts, the Decorative Arts is a widely used term to cover a large and varied body of objects falling under the categories of furniture, metalwork, ceramic, pottery, glass, textile, costume, jewelry, musical instruments, tools, toys, transport, folk art, woodwork, ivory, horn, bone, and other miscellaneous categories. Consisting of mostly functional objects although some non-functional objects are included, the decorative arts differ to the fine arts, grouped under the categories of painting, sculpture, drawing and photography.
LDA wishes to attract in particular students and a general audience of people from all ethnic communities in the field art and art history, history, material culture, history of design, archeology, anthropology, architecture and design.
The 2008 and 2009 workshops were a great success. The overseas speakers who attended were happy to participate and funded their own airfare and stay, and are keen to return to support for the LDA, and spread the word to their museums, academic colleagues, and friends abroad.
Funding is always problematic, and a supportive group of sponsors and volunteers have greatly helped with the success of the workshops.
With the launching of LDA we will go further to find support from local institutions, and through media and advertising, the future workshops will reach a larger audience. Members and student members especially will be offered a reduced registration fee for all these events.
For more details on membership and to add your name to a list-serve you can always reach me at: info.sldas @gmail.com.
All good wishes,
Deshika van Haght