Hanusha Somasunderam holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from University of Jaffna, she hails from the up-country region of Sri Lanka and is the daughter of two tea estate workers. She began exploring her society and her own existence through paintings and unorthodox mediums that reify the paradoxes and struggles of plantation work and living. She uses materials associated with the everyday practice of drinking tea such as tea strainers, teacups, tea-bags, as well as the receipts received by tea-pluckers like her mother that calculate their wage according to the weight of tea leaves plucked.
'Those who drink tea are not aware of the pain and struggles that community live in the tea estates go through. You should look back at the fate of the community. I demand them to look back through my artworks.'
Somasunderam's work explores her own experience as a young child, being left with her sibling in daycare while her mother worked, witnessing her mother's occupational injuries, as well as the contradictions in the imagined 'feminine' in Sri Lanka.
'My art is a representative of my society plucking tea leaves endlessly to make your cup of joyful tea. A respectable wage that is still out of sight after heart breaking efforts for generations, a life without the basic human needs and a troublesome childhood with so many barriers. No proper guidance and suffocation by leech bites are all part of my society's routine life. My country earns from the tea plucked by my society and in return keeps my society begging. My aim through my work is to share their pain with the tea strainers and monthly pay slips as pale witnesses.'