The exhibition ‘Colours of Change’ illustrates and catalogues the rapid changes that have taken place during the last 28 years that Stephen has been photographing Sri Lanka. From the delicate co operation between villager and nature taken from his book ‘Dharmadeepa’, published in 2009, to the brutality of war in ‘Sri Lanka War Stories’ published in 2008 and the post war culture of construction and shifting landscapes in his latest work, ‘Colours of Change’.
The exhibition examines the spectacle of past and present, wartime and peaceful times and the evolving image that is beginning to create the landscape of tomorrow. Stephens work changes as it passes through three decades, creating a flow of thoughtful imagery and a document of our time. ‘Colours of Change’ celebrates the conscience of the independently minded and free. It is dedicated in part to all those who provoke truth and knowledge. Stephen’s books and exhibitions draw on the traditions of visual storytelling where the photographs, silent as they are, actually explode with narrative. This is the trademark of his photographic expression and the essence of his image.
The photographs in ‘Sri Lanka War Stories’ lend voice to the voiceless of those times and bear witness to events often lost in all but a few memories. In ‘Dharmadeepa’ the passing of time and place is observed, where places and landscapes are only remembered in the recording of time, as they change, reform and disappear. In ‘Colours of Change’ tomorrow’s new urban, hybrid village is born and change like never before is embraced. Stephens work reaches out to a varied audience. His photographs motivate thoughts connecting us with the balance of nature, vulnerability in the face of war, and the remodelled landscapes undergoing commercial exploitation, tourism and industrial development.
“These issues resonate much interest from the intellectual world of the villager and urban dweller alike. As world leaders attempt to evaluate the nature of change and to forecast a future, it is likely to be of little use as long as we fuel war with increasingly sophisticated ways of annihilating one another. In the prevailing environment of greed and inequality I share this work ‘Colours of Change’ in order to promote dignity and understanding with all communities and to encourage others to do the same.” Stephen Champion, 2013
Stephen Champion is a freelance photographer based in London. From 1986 he developed new works in Sri Lanka, creating several exhibitions that were shown in both Sri Lanka and the UK, and in 1993 his first book, Lanka 1986-1992, was published in the UK. His photographs have appeared worldwide in magazines, academic research papers, newspapers and films. Champion has been a visiting lecturer at several UK universities and his work is retained in both public and private collections.