THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The tourism department is considering the removal of the helicopter from the vicinity of the Mermaid sculpture of Kanayi Kunhiraman at Shankhumukham. The installation of the helicopter on the beach kicked up a controversy after the sculptor and other artists objected, saying it intruded into the canvas of Kanayi’s Mermaid. The sculpture falls under the public art category and has the space around it as its canvas.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told TNIE that if Kanayi wants the helicopter removed, it will be considered. “We have a good relationship with the Air Force and our decision to place the helicopter was part of the cooperative efforts. The possibility of offending the sculpture or the sculptor had not occurred to us. I plan to meet with Kanayi and have a talk about how we can go forward,” said the minister.
Earlier, many prominent figures including writer and critic M K Sanu, artist Soorya Krishnamoorthy and writer Paul Zacharia had spoken against the decision to place the helicopter there. The issue came to limelight after lockdown restrictions were lifted and people started visiting tourism sites once again.
The MI8 helicopter was installed on the beach in June 2019 by the Air Force to encourage youth to join the force. Tourism development works around it encroached more of the space. Earlier when objections were raised, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan rang up Kanayi and promised a solution after the local body elections.
Kanayi Kunhiraman himself told TNIE in November that the sculpture portrays a mermaid unable to live in the sea and facing difficulties in land also because of polluting factors. “The landscaping around it is supposed to convey the idea. What is the connection between the helicopter and sculpture?” he asked. The sculptor was firm on the decision that he would not compromise on his protest till the sculpture is removed, prompting the tourism department to look into the matter. One of the suggestions made to end the issue is shifting the helicopter to the children’s park at Shankhumukham.