KOCHI: Dedicating an entire life for an art form demands enormous patience, devotion and sincere effort. If that hard work results in notable recognition, happiness is palpable. The life of Sivakumar Tirumala, a renowned metal artist retells a similar story of grit and unending desire. "I have the legacy of traditional goldsmiths who have been working for the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple for decades. I grew up seeing the works done by my grandfather and father and started learning Vedic metal art at the age of 16. I have been in this field for the past 32 years," said Sivakumar.
Apart from the National Award given by the Ministry of Textiles which he won in 2013, he has also won the Kerala Tourism Crafts Award for his work titled, 'Sundreswar.' The award-winning five-foot long sculpture, 'Kamadhenu Kalpavriksham' has been exhibited at the fest. The sculpture, made out of bronze, brass and silver depicts the concepts of God, the planets and the universe.
The Kamadhenu series was based on Hindu mythology. "Like how the concept of 'aspire', related to Kamadhenu, I made this sculpture with the thought of growing further. Luckily, it caught the attention of the Handicrafts Commissioner and I was able to bring the national award to Kerala after 20 years," beamed Sivakumar.
For him, attending an art fest is all about interacting with people and explaining the art of sculpting to those who wish to learn more.
But these are difficult times for sculptors. "There are many talented sculptors in the state. Unfortunately, government grants are not reaching the neediest. And, most of them are hampered because of limited exposure and opportunities. I'm trying to make these people aware of various schemes and hope to bring a change in the grassroots," said Sivakumar.
He is currently teaching the trade free-of-cost to 28 students and will start a training programme with the help of the central government. "I always believe in sharing my knowledge than restricting it to myself. Apart from the existing students, I'm going to launch an initiative called 'Guru-shishya parampara', with a monthly grant of `7,200 from the Textiles Ministry by April. Each batch will have 15 students and they will learn designing, metal embossing and Vedic art," he said.
Despite the recognition he has received, Sivakumar complains about the societal approach towards handicrafts. "There are many artists who are being ignored after putting in a huge effort for their works. Many a time, society rates sculptors as second-class citizens. This can only be changed through constant support to struggling artists," he added.
The artist, who has a diploma in painting, clay modelling and geometrical drawing, currently makes metal busts of political leaders and other notable figures along with many temple artworks.