• Vishmi Helaratne

While addressing the significant and complex histories of Sri Lanka and their own upbringing here in Aotearoa, Vishmi Helaratne (b.1995, Te-Whanganui-a-Tara) delves into the politics of sex and identity, presenting speculative meditations of past, present, and future worlds. Helaratne combines gastronomic and painting techniques to create luscious and surprising textures and perspectives that explore social customs, hospitality, multiculturalism, sensory language, and storytelling.⁠

Helaratne’s fluorescent paintings of colourful structures represent the great freedom that playgrounds held for us as children. These public sites were set out in the open where the air was fresh instead of stagnant and compacted. This was not somewhere where we had to be studious or proper, but an environment that was dedicated entirely to play. The monkey bars, see-saws and swings were brightly coloured and shiny. You were allowed to scream and run and be just as athletic as all the boys. The skirts that our mothers made for us didn’t have a place here. Wearing shorts meant that you could hang upside down on the monkey bars without flashing your undies. The skin on the back of your knees would tug and squeak along the metal bars with such a sound that would make our mother’s wince. For short afternoons these were spaces of rebellion and freedom, but when our mental timers rang, we knew we had to start the walk back toward home. Back to the places where childishness, imagination and aspiration, must be left at the door.

The above is taken from Dilohana Lekamge's personal response to the exhibition. An artist, writer and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Lekamge was recently appointed Exhibition Curator & Gallery Manager at Depot Artspace and is an archivist at Satellites. You can read the full essay here.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday 10am-5pm
  • Saturday 10am-4pm


  • 42 Victoria Street
  • Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, 6011