The fortnight-long “International Mural Painters’ Camp” was concluded on May 25, 2013 at Kottayam with the Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy declaring Kottayam the ‘Mural City’, with mural paintings by 350 artists adorning every available wall in the city, in the biggest effort in India to take out its murals (wall paintings) from the confines of monasteries, temples and churches.
The event was organised by Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, Kottayam and it was inaugurated by Minister for Culture, K.C. Joseph, and local Member of Legislative Assembly, Thiruvanoor Radhakrishnan on May 13, 2013 at Thirunakkara Temple. About 350 artists and experts from different parts of the country and also from abroad including Italy, Germany, Korea, Portugal and Canada demonstrated different styles of mural paintings. Two Ladakhis, Tashi Samdup and Tsewang Stanzin, both students of renowned Thangka painter, Padmashree Tsering Wangdus represented Ladakh by participating in the camp and painted mythical figures and auspicious symbols of Tibetan art on the walls of Darsana Culture Centre and Darsana Academy in Kottayam in Kerala.
International seminars, exhibitions and discussion groups were also held as part of the programme. Dr Sonam Wangchok, Secretary of Himalayan Cultural Heritage Foundation gave a presentation on ‘mythical tales and auspicious symbols depicted in Tibetan paintings’ at a seminar.
Kottayam is a city in Kerala often referred to as the city of ‘letters, latex and lakes’. Sources say that these mural paintings drawn by the artists will become permanent exhibits at public places all over the town including public libraries, town hall, educational institutions, places of worship and the railway station. Kottayam hailed as the first city in India to achieve 100% literacy has now another title to boast as the Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy has declared it as a ‘Mural City’. It becomes the second mural city in the country after Shekhawati in Rajasthan.