Coimbatore Vizha's ‘Incredible Coimbatoreans' and ‘Timeless Facades' throw the spotlight on the special people and places of the city. Subha J Rao reports

Want to know more about the pioneers who made Coimbatore a name to reckon with? Or, take a look at artistic impressions of old-world homes and buildings on Vysial Street and Ram Nagar?

Head to the atrium at Brookefields, the venue of ‘Timeless Facades' and ‘Incredible Coimbatoreans', an exhibition organised by The Vanavarayar Foundation as part of Coimbatore Vizha (till January 8). The exhibition is on till January 4.

Making a difference

Check out ‘Incredible Coimbatoreans' — the portraits of the men who changed Coimbatore's destiny.

The information sheets accompanying the black-and-white portraits contain details about them— date of birth, parents, educational qualification, profession, date of death and the legacy they left behind.

P.S. Govindasamy Naidu, a small-time farmer sold tobacco and was a dealer of bulls from Mysore, but he dared to dream big. He went on to start the Sarvajana School. He's famous for his lasting legacy — the PSG and Sons' Charities Trust that renders yeomen service in the field of education and health.

Then there's G.D. Naidu, who never went to school, but was intrigued by science. He learnt English and Tamil on his own and went on to set up UMS. His innovations continue to live in the museum that bears his name.

The list of people featured in this section also includes Sir Robert Stanes, India's first finance minister R.K. Shanmugham Chettiar, film pioneer Saamikannu Vincent, educationist T.S. Avinashilingam Chettiar, eye doctor C. Nanjappa and industrialist G.K. Sundaram.

Heroes of Kovai

You also learn of freedom fighter and khadi lover Kovai Angamuthu, the multi-faceted S.P. Narasimalu Naidu, V.C. Vellingiri Gounder, who planted tamarind trees (now felled) on Mettupalayam Road, educationist G.R. Damodaran, MMA Chinappa Devar who made 49 films (20 in Hindi) in 22 years, R. Venkadasamy Naidu, who took Kongu culture to the world, and jeweller P.A. Raju Chettiar who put the city on the jewellery map.

‘Timeless Facades' takes you on a walk down memory lane. There are paintings of the traditional houses on Vysial Street (Viswa Bhavanam) and Sukrawarpet, the magnificent Gass Forest Museum, Coimbatore's iconic Victoria Town Hall and the Clock Tower, the bustling Athar Jamath Mosque, Variety Hall Road and Chintamani in North Coimbatore, where time seems to stand still.

Seeing the Chintamani name board, memories rush in — of monthly trips with the grandparents, of good ol' non-buttered salty popcorn, and of eating cone ice sitting on chipped benches.

The heritage building housing the Tamilnad Mercantile Bank on Big Bazaar Street, the peaceful All Souls Church in Race Course, all find a place. These are buildings that continue to stand tall, as a reminder of what the city once was like.

PS: Many people walked into the exhibition space, eager to learn more about the city they live in. They left disappointed, for the description sheets were all in Tamil, and not all of them could read the language.

PPS: The organisers promise to set this right today.

The Hindu is the media partner for the event

ARTIST-SPEAK

Chennai-based R. Solomon has rendered most of the 66 paintings on display (35 personalities; 31 buildings). Coimbatore-based J. Panneerselvam did some portraits. It was a project three years in the making.

For the personalities, drawn using pencil on imported board, Solomon relied on photographs. For the buildings, he photographed them first from three angles (straight, 1/3rd and low angle), some in morning and evening light, others in the afternoon. That attention to detail shows. Some of the paintings are bathed in mellow light, while others shine under the brilliant sun. Solomon says he used line sketching, but made some allowances that allowed the aesthetics to shine through. Some of the buildings are painted in water colour, giving them a lovely old-world feel.

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