Voicing artists’ responses to Covid-19 from all over the island


By Dimithri Wijesinghe

Artra Magazine, a monthly contemporary art magazine exploring visual, performance, applied, written, and culinary art, established in 2012, launched an initiative throughout the curfew titled, “Artist Challenge”, where they encouraged readers to draw their attention to local artists who inspire them.

With an active presence on social media, Artra was able to connect with multiple local artists as their readers tagged them in the many works available online, allowing them to create a massive network of local artists.

Azara Jaleel

Artra Magazine Founder and Editor Azara Jaleel shared that they received submissions of nearly 3,000 artists, who then began to interact with the magazine. This allowed Azara and her team to see what artists were creating during these times of crisis, and how they were expressing themselves.

As a result of these interactions, Artra Magazine has launched their new initiative – an opportunity for artists to be a part of a showcase curated by Artra, voicing artists’ responses to Covid-19 from all over the island.  

Artists who are 18 years of age or above, and who were born and are living in Sri Lanka are encouraged to share their response to, or reflections on, the global pandemic, Covid-19.


  1.   Work of art needs to be original and authentic
  2.   Works of art submitted need to be in the visual medium (sketch/painting/drawing/photography/illustration/digital art/doodle)
  3.   When artwork is submitted, the artist needs to submit their artist profile, concept note to the piece (max. 500 words), and place of birth (in English/Sinhala/Tamil)
  4.   Application need to be submitted via editorial@artra.lk by 25 May

Azara shared that they are looking to represent all nine provinces and 25 districts in the work they chose to showcase. She said that the submissions they’ve received so far, with regards to their previous Artist Challenge, were representative of people from diverse backgrounds from all corners of the island.

She also shared that they hope that this collection is able to create something similar to an artist-exclusive LinkedIn for Sri Lankan artists. She stated that they will also write a professional concept note that best represents the work of the artists they pick, to add onto their online canvas.

She said that while we have many talented artists in the island, there is a dire lack of awareness and knowhow in how to market oneself and also to accurately communicate their vision. They wish to help with these roadblocks by creating concept notes and other artist profile-related requirements in order to get the word out and gravitate attention towards our local creative industry.

Once all the work is collected, and once the go-ahead is given by the authorities with regards to returning to normalcy, they would like to showcase at least 100 pieces that were shared with them, sometime in June, she said. While they hope to create this physical exhibition, they will of course start to showcase the works online, which will also allow easier access to anyone interested.

In a time when art may seem to be the last thing on anyone’s mind, Azara shared that it is now that art has its most important role to play. She said that what we are experiencing right now is a consequence of humanity having lost touch with who they are, and now we have been given the opportunity to look within, to reflect on our actions, and that is what art is to begin with – primary thought, creating by experience. There’s really been no better time than now to do so, she said.