Solo exhibition in Colombo explores endangered butterfly species, combining science and art

PUBLISHED Oct 3, 2023

Sanath Herath and his artwork

Artist Sanath Herath’s solo exhibition, “Metamorphosis Papiliones Ceylonensis,” which focuses on butterflies, is currently being held at the Barefoot Gallery (Galle Road, Colombo 04) in Bambalapitiya, Colombo.

Herath, originally from a village on the outskirts of Gampola in the lush central region of Sri Lanka, spent his childhood surrounded by nature. He majored in Landscape Architecture at the Moratuwa University in the suburb of Colombo, where he now works as a lecturer. This academic journey allowed him to deepen his connection with the natural environment. He began seriously painting three years ago. Depicting butterflies and plants in their truest form, he says, “I try to keep it scientifically accurate while changing it artistically.” Herath mentions being influenced by historical natural history artists, such as Maria Sibylla Merian, an artist and entomologist from the 17th century, and botanical artist Ferdinand Bauer.

This exhibition is his first solo show. The title, written in Latin, resembling scientific nomenclature, translates to “Metamorphosis of the Butterflies of Ceylon.” The exhibition features 30 watercolor paintings of Sri Lanka’s endemic species and subspecies of butterflies listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. “The transformation of a butterfly is symbolic of life’s journey itself,” Herath says. His artwork not only depicts the adult form of the butterflies but meticulously portrays their entire life cycle, from eggs to larvae to pupae to adulthood.

Herath also expresses a concern for ecosystem conservation and hopes that viewers will notice the plants depicted alongside the butterflies in his artwork and be inspired to cultivate them in their gardens.

The gallery is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., closed on Sundays. The exhibition runs until October 15.

  • Exhibited work at “Metamorphosis Papiliones Ceylonensis”

  • Watercolor depiction of butterflies at “Metamorphosis Papiliones Ceylonensis”