Nirali’s first solo art exhibition

By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna

Seven-year-old Nirali Galhenage from Gateway College, Colombo, is an exceptionally talented artist who loves to draw flowers. Her debut art exhibition themed “Flowering” was held recently at Gallery FourLife. “I came up with the name ‘Flowering’ for my art exhibition because I love flowers and I have drawn lots of flowers on my canvas. The exhibition was also the result of a big effort,” Nirali said, sharing her exhibition experience with Little Stars.  


Nirali, please tell us more about yourself.

I am Nirali Galhenage. I am seven years old. I am from Palawatta and I have two little brothers. Their names are Thavin and Vihan. One is two years old and the other is just one year old. I am a student of Gateway College, Colombo. I like cooking, cleaning, painting, and drawing. I also love to read. I would like to become a nail artist and a chef at the same when I grow older because I love nail painting and cooking a lot. My favourite artist is Frida Kahlo and I love her paintings and portraits.


How does it feel to be an older sister?

It feels good. I draw with my siblings and I tell them stories. Sometimes I help to wash them and put them to bed. When they come to fight with me I go away. 


What do you like to draw?

I like to draw by taking inspiration from nature. I love the sea and the beach. I use mixed mediums on canvases and I love using poster colours, acrylic paints, beads, dried flowers, and glitter to create art. I like to draw difficult things, like a proper leaf or a dog with a lot of details. I like to do portraits, instead of the whole body. We learned this at school too.


How are you learning how to draw?

I learn to draw from my mother and from school. 


Since when have you been drawing?

I have been drawing since I was in a playgroup. 


What is your favourite colour?

I like lots of different colours. Yellow, purple, and pink are some of them.


Do you play any sports?

We do PE at school. I do swimming and chess privately. At home, I play chess with my father and my mother.


You told us you like to read. What is the last book you read?

The last book I read is the first Harry Potter book. I liked the story because it’s magical and there is a unicorn in it. I love unicorns.


What do you know about unicorns?

They can run fast. They can fly. They can fly above a rainbow. They have colourful horns and colourful bodies. I like to draw them too.


What is your favourite storybook?

“Grace the Glitter Fairy”. It is the third fairy book in the Party Fairies series. 


You also told me that you like to cook. What are the dishes you know how to make?

I know how to make salad, soup, chicken, fish, rice, and I can also fry eggs. My favourite foods are salad and soup. My favourite soup is corn soup. I also know how to make sandwiches and jelly.


When do you want to become a nail artist?

Very soon. I want to become a nail artist because I like to paint my nails. I used to bite my nails and I wanted to stop that. I remembered that I could do nail arts if I stopped. If someone is biting their nails they won’t be able to do nail arts.


Your paintings are very colourful. Do you have any tips for your friends who like to draw and paint?

You have to get used to the basics. Start with some scribbles, do something simple. You have to learn how to hold the paintbrush properly. Use the paints very carefully without wasting them or making a mess. As you have done the basics correctly, you can move on to draw more complex things like gardens. When you master that, you can go on to draw really complex things. Then you will be able to sketch better. You have to go step by step.


Let’s talk about your exhibition. Why did you decide to hold an art exhibition?

Well, I had done a lot of paintings. They were all over the house. So I thought it would be better to show everyone my work and they can also take the paintings home with them. To become a good artist you have to learn how to give away your paintings. 


How did you feel after the exhibition?

I felt good. But my mouth was aching a little bit from repeating the same thing again and again. I liked that experience.


Are you planning to have another exhibition?

I am going to plan another exhibition next year. 


How about the feedback you received from those who visited your exhibition?

It was really good. They said the paintings are beautiful and wonderful. I am happy to read the wonderful comments they have left for me in the visitor’s notebook. 


Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you to organise this exhibition?

I thank the owners of the gallery – uncle Chathuranga and Aunty Achini. My mother and father. All my loving teachers in my school. 


PHOTO Eshan Dasanayake