Annoushka Hempel, B.A. SOAS, London; 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.

Neil Butler, Curator, Colombo Art Biennale 2012

Neil Butler: UK/Scotland

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. He is the founder of UZ Events in the UK and became a specialist in closing down cities to create art venues.


Jagath Weerasinghe – Co-Founder & Curator, 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.


Anoli Perera – Artist and Director of Theertha

Anoli Perera, artist, writer and cultural manager, has been part of the wave of artists in the 1990s who have professed a new ideological position in the art production in relation to the contemporary art knowledge and social context in Sri Lanka.

Her studies of Political Science, Economics and Sociology at the University of Colombo were followed by a postgraduate diploma in International Affairs from the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies. From 1988 to 1992 she lived in the USA, where she started her career as a visual artist. Largely self-taught she pursued her training in stone carving at the Artworks: The Visual Art School of Princeton for Continuing Education, New Jersey, USA.


Nazreen Sansoni – Director, Barefoot Gallery

Nazreen Sansoni is responsible for the flow of books and art through Sri Lanka’s cultural hotspot – the Barefoot Gallery and Cafe. She is also a central figure in the de facto salon that gathers there and manages the myriad concerts, launches and events that fill the space. In this way Nazreen cultivates both the arts and the arts community. In addition to her duties as a Director, Curator, and Organizer she is an avid reader, traveller, photographer and mother of five.


Rajeev & Nadia Samdani

The Samdanis, young Bangladeshi investors, are not only prodigious collectors of art of their region—their vast collection includes modern and contemporary Bangladeshi artists as well as artists from India and Pakistan—they are also avid supporters of it. Rajeeb is co-chair and a founding member of Tate’s South Asian Acquisition Committee, but the Samdanis have become best known for their biennial, Dhaka Art Summit, which brings together curators, artists, and other arts professionals from around the globe.Bjoern has been the Director of the Goethe-Institut in Colombo since August 2010 and is a great supporter of the arts in Sri Lanka.

Nilofur Farrukh

The many dimensions of Niilofur Farrukh’s career in the visual arts include art criticism, art history, curatorial work, art education and art activism. Through the 1990s she contributed regularly to Newsline and has written for national and international journals. She writes a monthly column, Critical Space for Gallery @ Dawn and contributes regularly to the editorial pages of the daily Dawn. Through the 1990s she headed the Dept of Communication Design at IVSAA and is the former Dean of the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts, Karachi. She is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the State Bank Museum, Karachi and former member of the Curatorial Committee of National Art Gallery, Islamabad. She is currently the President of AICA Pakistan, chapter of International Art Critics Association, Paris and co-founder of ASNA, an organization committed to build linkages between traditional craft and contemporary art.