Hema Shironi Sri Lankan, b. 1991


Hema Shironi explores her community’s historical and lived experience of colonization and civil war. As a child, her family often moved from one place to another and she eventually found herself questioning the bonds that communities and individuals make. This questioning was driven by the difficulty of answering what it truly meant to belong somewhere. Hema’s wide-ranging artistic practice combines embroidery, mythological imagery, bricolage, and installation, to name but a few instances of a keen inquiry into cultural identity. A notable element underpinning much of Hema’s work is a gridded structure that permeates her compositions. Appearing as threads and partitions, they often contain the sculptures and installations of her interdisciplinary work. National flags and religious imagery are dissected to reveal not just similar structural principles but the uncertainties that bring them together in the first place. In addition to this, her use of cartography reveals the trauma that remains embedded in the landscapes of the North. Hema states that her practice focuses on the human and universal aspects of the conflict. Her work is driven by the nostalgia of the numerous places she has called home and how each community belonging to those places grapples with concerns of language, culture, memory, myth, gender, and equality. Sri Lanka is a vibrant country with a multitude of overlapping and cultural trajectories, where many languages, religions, and historical communities coexist.  The wide range of materials used in the artist's work reflects the cultural diversity experienced on her personal migratory routes. 


Hema Shironi is a multidisciplinary artist who now lives in Killinochchi and recently completed her MFA at Beacon House National University Lahore. Shironi’s art practice is deeply rooted in observance of the history of colonization, civil war, displacement and migration, which she highlights through personal stories and experiences of living in Sri Lanka.  The idea of identity in her practice has given shape to nostalgia by recreating the places the artist lived in for short periods of time. Using different sources and references to critique the human-made spaces, and the changes in environment due to human behavior. She explores political themes around the subjects of domesticity, language, culture, memory, religious myths, gender politics, tenacity and fragility.