one world foundation
the one world foundation (owf) is a free education unit in ahungalla, sri lanka, south of colombo and close to the indian ocean. the vienna based foundation paint for life offers residencies as part of an arts in education program to teach regular classes in photography. I have been teaching at the school from 2009 - 2012 and currently hold the post of a mentor for the program. the austrian photographer patrizia gapp became affiliated with paint for life and conducted her first course in 2011. the italien photographer elena givone joined forces the year after and started her course at the owf in autumn 2012.
the owf provides education for about 1000 pupils and students from pre-school up to high school age and offers courses that are not or inadequately covered by governmental schools, such as english, tamil, computer science or graphic design. I train students enrolled in graphic design and provide hands-on experience in digital photography. we use ten pentax dslr bodies and a small selection of lenses, generously financed by paint for life in 2009. classes run daily on weekdays and feature photo history, photographic concepts and theory, the role of the digital media and plenty of practical assignments.
gaining insight into digital photography is half the story, though. I understand photography in the given context as a tool to train life skills that find little to no support within educational structures. my course is designed in a workshop like setting with exchange and critical feedback. I do encourage students to get actively involved in the process of work and to carry out individual projects with responsibility and clear structures. my aim is to make students aware of the value of soft skills in personal and job related matters. in my opinion, awareness is about the way we perceive moments, places and ultimately light, how far we are willing to take in information, to capture and to share. photography certainly is a powerful media to bring visions across.
I have the opportunity to organize and carry out proper photo assignments with my students and exhibit a selection of work at the end of each course. photography classes resume twice a year and last for about eight weeks.
this photo gallery features a small selection of student's work, a blog provides further information about the photography courses.
I pursued a few photo projects on the side, featuring school children at the owf, monks at vidya samadhi piriwena temple and workers in a garment factory of ran malu fashions in biyagama, close to colombo.
my residencies in sri lanka are great adventures and provide endless opportunities to learn and to discover. many thanks to the founding members of paint for life, kerstin kussmaul and andreas barth, the school principal prabath wijesekara de zoysa, my assistant saloshani de silva, claudia wenzl-wintersteiger, karin granner, katharina helmreich, anja christanell and roman berka.
last but not least a big thank you to my students at the owf for welcoming me every day with a smile, for their trust, support and endless curiosity.