The birth of the digital art connoisseur
Kerrwh, Asia’s first NFT art gallery
Disruption of the status quo breeds innovation, and we are currently experiencing one of the most disruptive periods of living memory. Art is something that, by its very nature, innovates, so it is no surprise that how we view, experience, and buy art is due for transformation.
Enter Kerrwh, Asia’s First NFT gallery; an entirely digital gallery launched in Sri Lanka by a small group of innately creative entrepreneurs. A combination of fine art and blockchain technology (more on what that means later), Kerrwh aims to carve out a niche for Sri Lanka in the emerging industry of digital art for Asian artists in the global NFT industry.
Brunch spoke to the team behind Kerrwh, Co-Founders Lekhya Ratnayake and Dilanjan Seneviratne, and Kerrwh Gallery Manager Mealiza Juliane for more on this landmark digital gallery.
What is an NFT, and how would NFTs apply to a piece of artwork?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are records maintained on a digital ledger based on blockchain technology which certifies the authenticity of digital assets in a way that cannot be tampered or altered. NFT technology is widely touted globally to be the next big medium for the art industry.
The blockchain technology that NFTs are based on ensures that asset ownership can be tracked, resold, and digitally owned, all the while ensuring that records are not altered and royalties are paid out in automatically executing smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
The global NFT market recorded over $ 2 billion in sales in the first quarter of 2021. Our intention with Kerrwh is to provide a platform for local and regional artists to participate in this groundbreaking global industry.
We believe strongly that this is potentially a game-changer for the local art industry. The global NFT industry is not only a multi-billion dollar behemoth, it’s also growing exponentially. Having entered at an early stage, we have an opportunity here to shape the trajectory of the industry and also to ensure that Asian artistry is celebrated on a global stage.
What inspired Kerrwh?
Kerrwh Co-Founders Lekhya Ratnayake and Dilanjan Seneviratne come from backgrounds of technology and art. Lekhya is an Executive Director of Trillium Property Management and Dilanjan is a Co-Founder of Theewra Worldwide; both have a lot of experience with digitisation projects and an appreciation for creativity and art. It’s really the perfect combination and that’s where the inspiration comes from.
The gallery model on the other hand, is something of a calculated move when considering the broader NFT industry. There are a number of widely adopted marketplaces for NFTs and a number of individual collectors. The gap in the market is in curating and facilitating services for all stakeholders.
As Asia’s first NFT art gallery, Kerrwh has the ability to curate promising local collections, nurture digital art communities, and contribute to global NFT exchanges like OpenSea, where Kerrwh’s maiden collection – NeonAF – is listed currently.
OpenSea is a leading global exchange with over 647,000 listed collections and 22 million NFT assets. To date, OpenSea has generated over $ 518 million in sales volumes. The opportunity presented by OpenSea listing Kerrwh’s collection is the exposure of local and regional art to the global digital art collection industry and over 120,000 registered buyers.
When does Kerrwh open its (virtual) doors and how will an entirely virtual gallery work?
Kerrwh launched its maiden collection – NeonAF – on 12 June. It is listed on OpenSea, with the individual art pieces minted on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s arguably the first time this has been done in Sri Lanka and Kerrwh is the first NFT art gallery in Asia. This is a great achievement for a launch project from Sri Lanka.
Kerrwh’s maiden collection, NeonAF, is a cyberpunk take on futuristic humanoid form; in unmistakeable neon. Representative of familiarity in a futuristic bearing of form and detail, NeonAF packs a high-tech punch with astronauts, humanoids, lasers, and portals. Uniquely, the collection reinterprets the standard low-life and high-tech formula of the genre to find a more optimistic visualisation of a distant future.
Neon AF is an entry point to a series of planned collections from truly gifted local artists. Kerrwh will mint each of its collections to the Ethereum network, innovating the industry norm.
What is the biggest challenge in running and marketing this kind of gallery?
The biggest challenge for any NFT project is the lack of awareness in the local industry. Kerrwh plans to allocate a significant amount of time, effort, and resources into creating awareness and educating the local market on the opportunities that the NFT industry presents.
The second challenge is the difficulty in scaling a local project to a global audience given our small community size and other factors. But Kerrwh plans on relying heavily on the media and other channels available in order to reach a global audience.
Who are the artists in Kerrwh and what is their art like?
Kerrwh will be a completely accessible gallery. Collections listed at Kerrwh will be curated from any promising artist from the region with an impressive body of work. The gallery managers of Kerrwh will actively seek out talent in the future but at this point in time, Kerrwh has an open call for nominations of new artists.
Neon AF, Kerrwh’s maiden collection, is by a local artist, who will be unveiled soon, and another local artist with a signature hand-drawn style will soon be introduced to the artist repertoire.
To nominate an artist or make an inquiry, the Gallery Manager can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.