This is about how kids in a number of localities in Sri Lanka see the world around them; the natural environment, ‘important’ people in their midst, temples, churches, theatres, stores owned by local people etc. These are pictorial maps as they see them and drawn by them, devoid of the nastiness of the adult world rapidly going mad around them. They see the temples as they see churches; they are simply places of worship; no seeming structures of hierarchy. May be there is some hope, at least until they become adults and join the madness around them.
This is what the adults who conceptualized the program and exhibition say about their effort: Theertha International Artists Collective, Colombo in collaboration with Barefoot Gallery, Colombo is presenting 'Ape Gama', an art exhibition that traces a series of Theertha programs undertaken in the past three years which combines art and heritage management. Theertha is an artists' collective working to facilitate contemporary art discourses within the art community in Sri Lanka. Initiated first in Kamburupitiya, Horapavita in 2009 by Theertha, the program 'Ape Gama' (Our Village) incorporated art workshops with school children, training sessions for teachers of art and discussions with community leaders on heritage management as integral parts of its work process. Through a holistic approach, 'Ape Gama' program facilitated the community to rediscover its own heritage present within its own area. In 2010 and 2011, 'Ape Gama' program (Let’s Take a Walk) was held in Maradana and Gampaha. At the end of all three programs, a map marking the rediscovered heritage sites within these specific local areas were drawn by school children that was enlarged, printed and distributed. The uniqueness of the 'Ape Gama' program lies in its ability to combine art and heritage management as a potent tool to mobilize communities to rethink about their own heritage giving attention to elements of contemporary popular cultural dynamics.
The 'Ape Gama' program is conceptualized on the basis of a different understanding of heritage from that of the dominant Authorized Heritage Discourse (The guiding principles of heritage preservation in Sri Lanka, as in many other countries are founded on the established notions of heritage preservation rooted in the western discourse of heritage, which Laura Jane Smith (2006) has labeled as the Authorized Heritage Discourse.). Here, heritage is seen as a cultural process rather than as a fixed entity while it is also is seen as a way in which a community connects and associates with what is regarded as heritage. This project intends to show that culture and heritage are contemporary experiences and that they do not merely belong to the past.. At the same time, situations that would be singled out as worthy of preserving and contemplation will be presented not simply as traces from the past, but more as traces of a larger social and cultural network that endows and constitute collective memories and identities of the village as a complex expression. The program prompts villagers or local residents of a specific locality to give value to the heritage expressions/situations that are both natural and cultural in their own localities both in terms of their specificity and inclusivity. In the course of the program, it was hoped that villagers will come to understand and appreciate the connectedness of their particular village, in terms of its heritage expressions/situations, to a larger geo-political region and to a deeper and varied socio-historic times.
The exhibition 'Ape Gama' will present selective documentation of the programs held in Horapavita, Maradana and Gampaha. 'Ape Gama' will be on show from 11th to 28th July 2013 at Barefoot Gallery, Galle Road, Colombo 4.
 The guiding principles of heritage preservation in Sri Lanka, as in many other countries are founded on the established notions of heritage preservation rooted in the western discourse of heritage, which Laura Jane Smith (2006) has labelled as the Authorized Heritage Discourse.