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For Barnala, painting is a hobby for charity

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INTERACTION: Governor Surjit Singh Barnala with the members of International Women's Association at Chettinad Palace on Tuesday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan
INTERACTION: Governor Surjit Singh Barnala with the members of International Women's Association at Chettinad Palace on Tuesday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

Staff Reporter

It began in jail in 1940s: Governor

CHENNAI: Painting as a hobby eventually turned out to be an exercise in promoting charitable causes for Governor Surjit Singh Barnala.

Mr. Barnala said he began painting in the 1940s when he was in solitary confinement for 15 months. In the prison, he would talk to himself to keep his sanity. It was then that he decided to take up painting as a hobby. He would paint the view from his window. Later, he used the hobby to fund charity.

But painting was not easy. His jailer made a bargain with him. If Mr. Barnala wanted to paint then he should do a few paintings for the jailer as well. "He would buy the canvas and the colours and tell me `this canvas is for me and these colours are for me'."

Mr. Barnala was participating in a meeting of the International Women's Association (IWA) at the Chettinad Palace in Raja Annamalaipuram here on Tuesday. He held his first exhibition at the suggestion of Patiala University. In Hyderabad, his paintings fetched money to build homes for 283 `sikligars' (squatters).

In Chennai, his exhibition fetched Rs. 1 lakh from 20 paintings, which helped Kashmir earthquake victims.

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