Sharni Jayawardena began her professional life as a press reporter in Colombo, Sri Lanka, but soon moved to a career in documentary filmmaking as a writer, director and editor. Her documentaries cover the environment, the arts, gender, poverty, conflict and human rights, themes whose inter-connectedness she increasingly explored. She was awarded the Journalism for Tolerance Prize 2003 (Broadcast category) for South Asia by the International Federation of Journalists for the documentary titled Defiant Art for “excellence in journalism combating racism and discrimination”. The documentary looks at ways in which five artists from Sri Lanka’s three main ethnic communities explore conflict and violence and use their art to express empathy and outrage, and create responsiveness and reconciliation.

Having recently moved to still photography, Sharni was a participant photographer in the Sethusamudram Art Project of the Theertha Artists’ Collective, which explored the complex histories shared by India and Sri Lanka, and included artists from both countries. Sharni is currently working with anthropologist Malathi de Alwis to photographically document devotion to the Goddess Kannaki/Pattini in Sri Lanka, a project supported by the Prince Claus Fund.

Sharni was the photographer of the Herstories archival project and of the audio slideshow series titled The Next Page for Groundviews’ Thirty Years Ago project.