George Keyts’ Stained Glass Mural in Montreal
High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara accompanied by Minister Counsellor Sumith Dassanayake recently visited the Library Marie-Uguay in Montreal, Canada where George Keyts’ one and only stained glass installation which was created based on Keyts stupendous canvas ‘Lanka Matha’ is now displayed.
The renowned Sri Lankan modern painter, George Keyts’ [1901-1993] stained glass mural was originally exhibited at the Ceylon Pavilion at the ‘Expo 1967’ held in Montreal, Canada and it was not brought back to Sri Lanka due to logistical problems. Keyts mural which depicts a village maiden carrying on her hip the Punkalasa [amphora] symbolises abundance and fertility, had been a major attraction at the exhibition in 1967. At the conclusion of the exhibition the mural had been gifted to the City of Montreal. Over the years the mural had disappeared from official records and personal memories.
However, due to the institutional memory and, continuous commitment by former civil servant Tissa Devendra it was rediscovered with the assistance of Mr. Mahinda Padmasiri who is a long standing Sri Lanka resident in Montreal. Today, the large mural is mounted in the foyer of the Bibliotheque [Library] Marie-Uguay in Montreal. In April Mr. Padmasiri together with prominent Sri Lankan Mr. Laya Alles invited the Mayor of Montreal to view the stained glass mural.
During the visit to the Library the High Commissioner speaking on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka said that the High Commission is happy and proud to have the historical stained glass installation based on a painting of a prominent Sri Lankan painter in the City of Montreal, which establishes a linkage between the two countries through the form of art. She also stated that more publicity should be given to this piece of art as this information is not known even within the Sri Lankan community living in Canada, and that the High Commission whould ensure that the location of this mural is recorded and will not be lost again.
The Municipal Councillor Ms.Huguette Roy, librarian Ms. Chantal Beaulieu Messers Mahinda Padmasiri and Laya Alles representing the Sri Lankan community were also present on the occasion.
A question that is being asked is, where is the original ‘ Lanka Matha’ ?
Sri Lanka High Commission
30th November 2012