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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 44

Peer Review

SHIROMI PINTO introduces MINNETTE DE SILVA, the Sri Lankan modernist who inspired her novel. Words by Shiromi Pinto. Photograph by Brian Brake. Courtesy of Museum of New Zealand.

Minnette de Silva has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence. Sri Lanka’s first modernist architect and the first Asian woman to be made an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, de Silva has had conferences dedicated to her in rarefied academic institutions and retrospectives in magazines. This year, she featured in an exhibition on post-independence architecture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. 

This would have been unthinkable even two decades ago. Back then, she was an anomaly one could scarcely believe had existed at all. I heard of her only by chance, through an old friend—a London architect who briefly worked with her in the 1980s. Over the course of long and spirited conversations, he’d tell me about this extraordinary woman who knew Picasso, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the father of modern architecture, Le Corbusier. And she was Sri Lankan. I was intrigued.

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Four

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