Platé is a photo-studio, and that's what it looks like from the outside. Step inside though, and you're transported back in time, to a place of warm teak walls, old books, framed paintings and antiques from different parts of the island and the world. It's a treasure trove for any photographer or history buff.
Watch our video about it:
The studio was set up about 126 years ago, by a French man (Platé) and a German lady. In the 1940s, Sri Lankan Arthur Fonseka entered the fold, and then took over the studio with his family, as Independence from British rule inspired the foreigners to leave the country. We were told by Fonseka's daughter Ms. Shamalica who runs the place now with her siblings that the Platé building as it is today used to be her family home, and that she and her siblings were born there.
They do an amazing job when it comes to framing photographs and pictures – they do have a century's experience. Fonseka's children themselves attend to your case over the counter. You can also enter their movie-like set and have your photo taken, whether it's a mugshot you want or a wedding shoot, or get your old photographs restored. Spanning four floors, you get high quality imported art supplies for sale here, crystalwear, a range of beautiful paintings (some by celebrities like George Keats, Senaka Senanayake, Lucky Senanayake, Ivan Pieris), statues and masks from China and other places, collectible items like tiny car models and old-school telephones and video recorders, and an impressive archive of photographs of Sri Lanka's past, from its people to its buildings.
Shamalica calls the archive "the largest record of Sri Lankan sites and people". There is also a library of books freshly bound and stacked in rows above you on the ground floor, inaccessible to the average visitor but a comforting sight to any bookworm. In fact the entire place gives off that nostalgia inducing, happy fragrance of old books.
The building is wonderfully well maintained and is a museum of wonders if you're the curious type with a love of history and old things.