A staff of the university has made their portraits, immortalising them on the walls of the famous Research Institute (RI) building of the university.
The present generation of Coimbatoreans relate them only to two prominent roads named after them. But Sir Arthur Lawley and W.R. Robertson are part of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University’s history.
To emphasise this, a staff of the university has made their portraits, immortalising them on the walls of the famous Research Institute (RI) building of the university.
The Agricultural School – the genesis of the TNAU – was established at Saidapet in the then Madras in 1868. When it got upgraded to the Madras Agricultural College in 1876, W.R. Robertson became its first principal. Since the location was not found suitable to learn agriculture, the college was later shifted to Coimbatore and eventually grew into the TNAU in 1971.
Sir Arthur Lawley, Governor of Madras, laid the foundation for the proposed Agricultural College and Research Institute (AC & RI) in Coimbatore in 1906. He also inaugurated the college in 1909. The building, which he inaugurated, is today the well known RI building that has completed a century.
S. Elangovan, Chief Artist and Photographer of TNAU, has made portraits of these two men using oil paint on canvas.
Speaking on the reason behind his effort, Mr. Elangovan, who has been working in TNAU for the last 25 years and also holding exhibitions of his works, says that for a long time he wanted to paint Sir Lawley’s portrait because of his connection to the university.
“Though I tried in all possible places, I was not able to get a photograph of Sir Lawley in Coimbatore. I was able to spot a black and white photograph of him on Wikipedia, which I downloaded to make a painting,” he says.
When he went to show the completed painting to the then Vice-Chancellor P. Murugesa Boopathi, he suggested that Mr. Elangovan make a portrait of Mr. Robertson also so that both the portraits could be hung adjacent to each other in the RI building.
This time round, the artist was lucky. He found an old photograph of Mr. Robertson in one of the departments of the university. He made the portrait in just four days.
Both the portraits have now found a pride of place in the foyer of the RI building. Appreciating the efforts of Mr. Elangovan, Mr. Boopathi, on the university’s 42 Foundation Day, presented him with a certificate recognising his work of art.