An enduring presence

Posted on 03 Nov 2012 | Posted in Heritage

September 3rd this year marked 18 years of the Mother & Children sculpture which graces the sprawling lawn before the corporate office in Thiruvananthapuram. The sculptures were unveiled in 1994 to mark 25 years of HLL’s existence.

That evening saw some of the greatest litterateurs and artistes in Kerala come together. Artist MV Devan foresaw that the statue would be an important feature in the area. Sure enough, HLL Lifecare is better known to the common man as the compound with a sculpture of a mother and her children. It was a tribute which took shape through the hands of Artist Namboodiri, one of the most popular figures in Indian art, famous for his line drawings or rekhachithrangal.

Jnanpith award winner Thakazhi Shivashankara Pillai inaugurated the statue. In keeping with his famous wit, he quipped he had little idea about sculpting, but wondered if it was the artist’s fluid lines which captured the imagination of readers more than the words used to describe the characters.

Cartoonist and writer Abu Abraham, who was also present, remembered his first meeting with Mr. Namboodiri in 1960. He compared Artist, as Mr. Namboodiri is popularly known, to directors Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who was one of the distinguished guests present that evening, and Satyajit Ray who had successfully drawn out stories from their local environments. Mr. Abraham said the artist too had remarkably brought alive the essence of Kerala’s society through his works. The statue of the Mother & Children went on to become one of his most well-known works. It also marked a major step for Artist Namboodiri into the world of sculpting

Short story writer T. Padmanabhan released a brochure on Mr. Namboodiri the same evening. The writer called Artist’s creations beyond compare, saying these memorable words, “I recently read an article on Namboodiri titled ‘God’s fingers’. I do not know how God’s fingers would be. But I do realize that if anything, it would be like that of Mr. Namboodiri’s.”

Mr. G. Rajamohan, then Chairman of HLL, called the statue a “tribute to the rich art heritage of our state”. Director Shaji N. Karun was also present atthe function.

The words of praise from Kerala’s eminent talents saw an emotional Artist Namboodiri humbly thanking chairman G. Rajamohan and Shaji N. Karun instead, calling them the “twin factors” who made his sculpture possible.

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