Dr Shiromali “Shiro” Ekanayake: A Voice of Resilience and Empathy Through Art
In the throes of a global pandemic, while many sought refuge in the comforts of the familiar, Dr. Shiromali Ekanayake found a renewed voice in her passion for art, which had previously remained dormant during the demands of her medical career. Known as “Shiro” to those close to her, this General Practitioner of over seventeen years from Shepparton, embarked on an unexpected artistic journey, unveiling the profound depths of human emotions, influenced by the six senses.
Shiro’s art speaks to the heart, revealing faces, both hidden and overt. Utilising repurposed treasures as the surfaces for her work, she captures the raw essence of emotions from happiness to sadness, and through mediocrity. Her use of natural elements and upcycled materials not only communicates the importance of sustainability but also highlights the intricate beauty of imperfections. Unique to her creations is the recurring motif of faces with a single eye, echoing her experiences in the medical field where empathy often means “crying with one eye open”.
The onset of COVID-19 brought with it moments of introspection. These moments were integral to the conception of Shiro’s “Art on Treasure and Trash” collection. With unwavering support from her family, friends and neighbours, especially Rudy Schiwansnick, who contributed significantly to her art supplies, Shiro transformed everyday materials into canvases of expression. Every piece she creates is a reflection of her belief that perfection is subjective and that the true essence of life lies in giving one’s best.
In her own words, Shiro emphasizes, “All we can do in this life is to be our best and do the best we can.” A mantra she not only believes in but brings to life through her art and her service to the community.
Her art isn’t just about expression; it’s about connection. As a dedicated medical practitioner, she’s intimately woven into the fabric of her community. Through her artwork, she fosters positivity and resilience, reminding people of the strength and vulnerability that coexist within all of us.
Shiro has exibited in Shepparton at Stellar Coffee and Mooroopna at MEAC, and her work was chosen to be included in the White Ribbon Exhibition at Cardinia Cultural Centre. She is the recipient of the “Call to Create” award at the 2023 Shepparton Festival. She will be featured in the 2024 Shepparton Festival program with a major exhibition and her work will inform the design of the festival’s 2024 marketing collateral.
Shiro’s artwork is not only a testament to her artistic talents but also her generous spirit. Many in her community are proud owners of her creations, gifts from an artist passionate about spreading love and kindness.