Kit’s Blog – Sura Medura and the chair caning man

After a journey in a car ride through the early traffic rush of Glasgow, 2 flights, one of which flew me over Baghdad with the flames from the oil refineries in the Iraqi desert clearly visible in the darkness of night, a stop off in Dubai taking in the sheer enormousness of the world’s tallest man-made structure and a van drive through the suburbs of Colombo and coastal roads of Sri Lanka – all encompassing a total of around 19 hours – I arrived at the Sura Medura in Hikkaduwa on Wednesday the 16th of January.

The Sura Medura is a 150 years old building found off the tourist beat of the town’s beach front and nestled within the local community’s residential area. It’s a stunning space full of ornate decorative carvings above the windows and large high ceilinged rooms. It’s a very quiet location with the peace often broken by the sound of birds in the palm trees surrounding the building. I think it’s going to be a nice place to have a studio space in…

On Galle Road

So far it’s been clear blue skies since my arrival with the temperature peeking at 32 degrees and a low of 20oC. There’s a pleasant breeze that gets blown in from the sea preventing you from feeling the humidity.

I have started collecting footage that will hopefully become either short films or part of the final outcome. Yesterday an elderly gentleman came into the Sunbeach Hotel – where I was enjoying a wonderful salt and chilli prawn salad – to fix the chair caning on some of the hotel chairs. I was captivated by the methodical, but fast process of re-weaving that he was applying in a crouched position. From afar I recorded his approach of reconstructing this highly decorative pattern. Made from cane, this material leaves you with a firm drum-like-surface that is durable but not necessarily long lasting. I found it compelling the length of time put into making the chairs a functioning tool of comfort again, in the knowledge that in spite of this concentrated endeavour, the canes will over time lose their stretch, become brittle and brake again. At which point this process of renewed repetition can begin again.

Chair Caning

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