A collective of women from the Koularagama Industrial Co-operative Society, from the rural village of that name that lies enroute to the Udawalawe National Park, achieved another milestone and a well-deserved boost with the opening of their very own sales showroom alongside their workshop. This group of skilled and hard-working artisans who create some exquisite pottery and ceramic products drawing inspiration from their surroundings for their designs, are not only reshaping a small community through their craft, but beginning to capture the hearts of both locals and tourists with their unique creations.
The small division of Koularagama lies in the Monaragala district, a low per capita income generating area in the country. Founded in 2004, the co-operative came together to build the local economy through developing skills and generating income for its largely female members.Under the leadership of the co-op’s current Chairperson, Sriyani Subasinghe, the collective produces many unique handmade craft pottery and ceramic-ware inspired by the flora and the fauna of the surrounding area. Among the many one-of-a-kind items are unique pieces of craft tableware, home decor and accessories that are delighting souvenir hunters and collectors. While they build a community through their entrepreneurship, they are also helping the continuation Sri Lankan traditional crafts.
Koulara Ceramics, as they are styled, has their new showroom located about 10km from UdawalaweNational Park. The forests that adjoin the village are where they draw their inspiration from for their unique designs.Koulara Ceramics make creative use of impressions left on the ground by the fauna of the area – from leopards, deer, birds, peacocks, elephants and other wildlife in the area. The potters make replicas of the animals’ paw prints left in the mud to create distinctive artifacts that showcase their imaginative, rustic artisanship. The products on display at the showroom included tableware, trays, jugs, vases, ashtrays, figurines of animals, decorative necklaces and a vast range of items turned out of pottery and ceramic. They are hoping that the visitors to the national park will come by their outlet to take home their work as souvenirs.
At the opening event, which was attended by several supporters of the cooperative including its design trainers, Sriyani Subasinghe said, “When we commenced producing pottery products in 2004, we had about 140 active members. However, we faced many challenges that interrupted our endeavours over the years. This year however, we were able to rebuild the society and continue our journey with the help of our trainers and various organizations that supported us, and the opening of this production and showroomfacilities are an important milestone”. The collective now markets its unique products through some selected outlets Colombo including Barefoot, Sooriya Village and the Good Market.