Despite their contribution to the lucrative tea industry of Sri Lanka, the voices of plantation workers often go unheard and their potential unrecognised. Thé Kahata is a series of photographic exhibitions organised by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) with the aim of strengthening their voice and highlighting the narrative of the plantation sector through visual images.
What is unique about the exhibitions is that the featured photographs were captured by youth belonging to plantation families in the Badulla and Nuwara Eliya Districts, who were given the opportunity to receive technical knowledge and understanding in photography as well as to explore their skills and talent through a series of workshops organised by CPA and the Uwa Shakthi Foundation, in partnership with Strengthening Reconciliation Processes in Sri Lanka (SRP), a programme co-financed by the European Union and German Federal Foreign Office.
For the plantation youth, this was a moment to showcase their talent and to provide subjective interpretations of a real situation or issue they witnessed, presenting a unique and personalised narrative of the community they inhabit. For viewers, the photographs are a tool for appreciation and advocacy, drawing awareness about these marginalised and silent communities and shedding new light on their potential.
The Thé Kahata national exhibition will be held on the 26th and 27th of September at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery.
Below are a selection of photographs taken by workshop participants.
Marking 150 years of tea production in Sri Lanka and in appreciation of the contribution made by plantation communities, in August 2017, Groundviews carried out a series of features “150 Years of Ceylon Tea” to raise awareness around the hardships faced by plantation workers and their families.