An eagle soaring high in the sky is awe-inspiring but the wind beneath its wings deserves far greater praise for being the invisible force that lifts it higher. The inspirational Keshini Ann Seneviratne Suraweera – Founder and visionary of The Creative Isle – CAN market, resembles the wind as she enables the creative individuals of our paradise isle to soar above the rest in a limitless ocean of creativity.

Attributing the creative journey she has commenced to God’s faithfulness, Keshini herself stands amazed at the mountains which have been moved to enable this seemingly impossible space to be established. Aptly named CAN, the platform has drawn a plethora of artisans and creative entrepreneurs from across the island; giving them a platform to showcase their creative talents through their product innovations and an effort to revive and preserve traditional arts and crafts. The platform is not merely limited to arts and crafts but provides a space to display home decor, interior, herbal products, food innovations, batiks, brass wear and so much more.

The broader vision for this initiative is to put Srilanka on the map as a creative hub for the most creative people and products Branding SL as truly a creative island.

Multi-faceted prism

“I was drawn to the arts as a child and I still maintain a strong kinship with my first art teacher, Ninel Fernando of Cora Abrahams Art School. She encouraged me to pursue my passion which I did until the career I envisioned for myself as an artist had to be put on pause since I joined the corporate world immediately after leaving school”. While art was a predominant talent, Keshini had strong leadership qualities which were put into good use as the Head Girl of her alma mater, St. Bridget’s Convent. “It was during these years that we had the opportunity to delve into a world of responsibilities pertaining to organizing events at school”. Thereafter, the young school leaver was assigned the task of managing her parents garment export plant of 250 workers and she did so with gusto; getting into a world which was dominated by men. Most often than not, Keshini found herself steeped in the operational side of the corporate sector and not contend with merely dictating terms while seated behind a desk. Her resolute efforts were recognized and she received the Silver award for the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year”.

A Chartered Management Accountant by profession, Keshini subsequently joined Sierra Constructions where she served as Alternate Director and Internal Consultant. After a 17 year stint in the corporate world she bid adieu to it for good and devoted her time to her growing family. Yet, Keshini was deeply involved in some aspect of management throughout her furlough as she was responsible for her parents’ retail outlet which opened a doorway to building strong rapports with a creative confluence of the most eclectic artists.

Isle of opportunities to shine

Similar to a multi-faceted prism are these extraordinary human beings and the lock down period served as an opportunity for revival, giving birth to CAN – the platform that has opened many avenues from one artist to another. “I have envisioned something far greater than my human capacity and I know that it is God who makes it possible; enthused the demure yet dynamic lady who has a fountain of ideas for the platform which has seen the birth of many enterprises.

Our country, has a wealth of treasures in its people who have an in-born talent to create passionately – from carvers, painters, artisans, dancers, among others who have taken on the challenges of shelving away their careers to tap into the realization of their life long dreams of becoming inventors, creators and designers. We are a bio –diversity hot spot, rich with natural resources which can be utilized to produce the most unique items by THE most gifted individuals and I wish to provide the opportunities for them to shine through CAN. I was once at cross roads having to choose a creative career versus a professional career for lack of market for creative people in Sri Lanka. I hope that CAN will be the catalyst for change for future generations who wish to express their creatively without inhibitions.

CAN’s Christmas Bazaar comes alive from 15 to 31st December 2020 at the Colombo City Centre.

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About Rochelle Gunaratne

I believe that everyone has a story to tell and in turn, I love listening to those stories, attempting to paint a picture to my readers with my words. I may not be an artist or painter, but I believe words can create powerful images in ones mind and it is how we share our stories with others.
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