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Annoushka Hempel, Founder & Director, Colombo Art Biennale

Annoushka was born in London where she attended the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London where she studied History of Art and Social Anthropology and achieved her BA Honours. She continued her love of the arts working with contemporary artists in London whilst researching for a book on African Art. Her work experience, then, led her to public relations and event management. Annoushka moved to Sri Lanka with her family nearly ten years ago when she set up and managed the first Art Gallery in Galle showcasing contemporary Sri Lankan artists. Subsequently, she founded the Colombo Art Biennale with Jagath Weerasinghe and directed the very first South Asian Art Biennale ‘Imagining Peace’ in 2009, collaborating with leading local curators, artists and art historians. ‘Imagining Peace’ successfully showcased the works of both established and emerging Sri Lankan artists alongside international artists, provoking the notion of artists as catalysts of change.

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Jagath WeerasingheCo-Founder, Colombo Art Biennale

Jagath is a Lecturer at the Art and Archeology University in Sri Lanka and is also a Founding Member & Chairman of Theertha International Artist Collective. His received his education in visual arts at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and the American University, Washington D.C. USA. He has been the main proponent in the idealogical shift in the approach to arts in the 1990s – now popularly referred to as the ’90s Art Trend’. He has shown his works extensively in Sri Lanka and internationally. Weerasinghe’s diverse interests allowed him to drift his attention to other related fields of art such as conservation of mural paintings. Presently a Professor of Archeology, his interventions in heritage management has been widely recognized. He lives and works in Sri Lanka.

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Neil Butler – Director (International), Colombo Art Biennale

An artist, cultural strategist and creator of festivals and events, Neil divides his time between Sri Lanka and Europe and has been visiting Sri Lanka since 1991 creating art, education and community projects. He works alongside the Colombo Art Biennale’s founder, Annoushka Hempel in giving artistic direction and guidance to the festival. In 2005, he developed the first ‘Hikkaduwa Beach Carnival’ with MTV and in 2006 the broadcast TV event ‘Sing for Peace’. He has established the Sura Medura Art Centre which runs workshops in theatre, music and dance in Hikkaduwa. The Centre regularly invites international artists to work in residence. In 2010 the Centre worked with the Dutch Director Dries Verhoeven and Dialog to create an innovative theatre show that appeared in the Netherlands Germany and the UK. He is the founder of UZ Events in the UK and became a specialist in closing down cities to create venues.