Category Archives: Pathum Egodawatta

Peace through Letters Could It Be?

By  Linushika De Silva
The Nation

Sunday, 15 September 2013


‘War or Peace?’ you’d promptly answer ‘Peace!’ but the question remains; Do you strive to find Peace in your ‘own little way’?

We found a young talent, who sought for Peace his ‘own little way’ to show the world out there that it’s all lying within us-yet unsought. Did you ever imagine that Peace could be found in Letters? Believe it or not-he did; Pathum Egodawatta, a student who completed his BA in Graphic Design this year, at the Academy of Design (AOD), designed a typeface by exploring graphical aspects of diverse cultures.
Looking back at the turmoil Sri Lanka faced in the context of a multi-ethnic country- the language parity was the spark to the ethnic tension we witnessed. Cultural aspects that outline ethnicity spark knots, and language tops the list. Pathum speaking to the Nation said, “The ethnic problem was in a peak position when I started to understand the world around me. I can’t really remember when I first met a Tamil person, it’s because it does not matter. The problem is not the different cultures and languages, but how society perceives it.” Focusing more he realized that language was a basic divisive factor that ‘can be used to bridge us’.
 “With the 30thAnnivesary of Black July falling this year, I felt the need to do something,” he said. The idea of ‘a universal language and alphabet’ that came up while working on a project is what led to this conception. Over the years professionals have advocated to bridge this gap but little has been put in to practice.
Sinhala and Tamil derive from one root language influenced with the arrival of Aryans. Similarities in visual properties and the parallel evolution show a possibility of combination. “Similarities between the two languages were a perfect point to focus on,” he added. Pathum was keen to do this as his final academic project, starting in mid April 2013. Today speaking to us he has successfully emerged with a collaborative expression using common shapes of Sinhala and Tamil letters.
“I started with a research on Tamil language, I only had a basic understanding,” Pathum elaborated the process. “I deconstructed letters taking apart different parts of letters to identify the similarities, basic sketches were developed, user testing was carried out with people from different levels, letters were then drawn on the computer” ensuring “the unity of the whole alphabet” leading to “another round of testing” and pointed out that he gave weight to the aesthetics as he was doing it for a Design project.
Talking about the obstacles and support, Pathum mentioned that user testing was a challenge. The curve of success for every single letter kept changing from one person to another He also found it hard to focus on “something that could be assessed under a design academic process,” and to make his “tutors, understand the project, because they are not Sri Lankans” but was grateful for the support he received. He also thanked Pushpananda Ekanayake, a professional type designer who he had consulted.
He created a website to show that this could actually work and found the feedback amazing; “It is encouraging to hear the Wow’s and amusement” The site can be viewed on Pathum is currently working on making the typeface “more sophisticated and usable”. He is not focusing on publicizing “That is not up to me. I am a designer, I’m willing and going to develop this further with the hope that media, policy makers and companies will see what this can be” mixing a little essence of his wishes.
Wrapping up he  said, “We are open to collaborate, the project is released under a public license that lets anybody to experiment, just shape it to whatever you want, just make it good” and closed the discussion with “Differences are based on similarities, we will rejoice living in one world when we learn to see our similarities instead of differences.”
He found Peace in the shapes of letters- where will you find it in?

  • By  Linushika De Silva
  • Sunday, 15 September 2013
  • By  Linushika De Silva
  • Sunday, 15 September 2013
  • By  Linushika De Silva
  • Sunday, 15 September 2013