Special Column
Life begins after 60 - The artful initiatives of Padmavathi Govindarajan

By Rajesh Govindarajulu, SimpliCity

Oct 06, 2017

Padmavathi Govindarajan was born and brought up at Trichy road by her father T.S.Arunachalam Chettiar. The 78 year old completed her tenth standard at the St.Mary's School on Trichy road and was married of to T.S.Govindarajan in the June of 1961. Life went on as usual at their Race Course home and she stayed along with her husband and in laws Meenakshi Ammal and Public Prosecutor T.R.Sundaram Pillai. The couple were blessed with two sons and two daughters , unfortunately one son and a daughter passed away quite early. The octogenarian husband T.S.Govindarajan shares details of their early days, "I was with the Coffee Board and was therefore put up in a number of locations. It was my wife who took care of our four kids. I spent most of my free time commuting too and forth from Coimbatore."

The couple decided to move over to K.K.Pudur in Sai Baba Colony in the year 2000 by acquiring a new house at Nachimuthu Lay Out. Padmavathi goes on to supplement the conversation across a cup of hot coffee and biscuits, "My grand daughter Nethrashri used to stay with us during her summer holidays. My husband and myself used to keep her engaged by making her learn hand writing and painting. She learnt painting from one Sumithra and I used to visit her in order to keep track of my grand daughter's progress. I used to also choose themes for my grand daughter for my daughter had unfortunately passed away early in life. My visits motivated me and I started learning from Sumithra who was far younger than me. The first picture was a Vaasthu picture. Later on I was able to do many more quite fast and finally I became a teacher myself at the age of 63. I was surprised with myself. Thereafter I learnt Tanjore art from one Lakshmi Subramaniam of Swathi Arts who happens to be the senior most person who taught the subject in town and she was also younger than me. It was she who advised me to enroll for a Fevicryl workshop at the Ramalingam Chettiar High School. Subsequently, I received a certificate from Fevicryl and began teaching all by myself thereafter. Fevicryl introduces all their products through teachers like us who have cleared their course."

Padmavathi began her career as an art teacher post the age of 60 and she teaches at home during the week days and keeps the week ends for herself. She executes orders for clients and her outfit is named after her late daughter Gowri. The septuagenarian teaches at schools and colleges too. At times she manages to teach about 500 students in one go with the help of the school staff. She has trained more than 200 students in Tanjore art from her house. Her package includes the materials required to create paintings. A set of vendors and a carpenter form the background of her operation and her husband Govindarajan helps her round the year. Gowri Arts & Paintings is now a name to reckon with and she produces nice paintings belonging to a number of varieties or types.

"I offer a wide range of pictures based on the requirements of my clients. My work includes oil paintings, water colours, varieties of murals, tooth pick paintings, glass paintings, Tanjore paintings, coffee paintings, greeting cards, metal works, copper embossing, Vaasthu mirrors, Panchaboothangal Vaasthu pictures etc., Some of my pieces have a ceramic finish and they are very special. I participate in exhibitions and workshops time and again. Life began after 60 years of age for me because of my new neighbourhood at K.K.Pudur. I am really glad that my work adorns a number of homes around the world. "Smiles Padmavathi Govindarajan while eagerly displaying her workshop at her house. Fortunately she has retained some of her signature pieces. She makes gift items too but her the pictures made by her are splendid. A number of religious and secular themes are offered by her and her thorough research is stunning. The Vaasthu mirrors, murals, metal work and the Panchaboothangal Vaasthu are unique. She makes rubber moulds on her own in order to make pieces using thin sheets of copper. Both, her activity and appearance bely her age and her socially minded husband is of great help to her at all times.

The Govindarajan couple live all by themselves for their kids live abroad and they have an active social life too. In spite of hailing from eminent families they have charted out an interesting and independent life based on hard work and creativity. While T.A.Ramalingam Chettiar (Father of the Co Operative Movement) happens to be the maternal grand father of T.S.Govindarajan, the eminent T.S.Sivasubramaniam Chettiar is the paternal grand father of Padmavathi! The intellectual social bent of mind and creativity of their ancestors seemed to have rubbed off on the couple.

"Work has kept me busy and satisfied. I have just completed one exhibition cum sale yesterday and one new more student has just enrolled herself with me. I like what I am doing and hope to share my skills with many more students while also keeping my clients happy. Honestly life began after 60 for me and I thank God for giving me this opportunity. Art gives a lot of joy and I urge everyone to experience it" signed off an enthusiastic Padmavathi Govindarajan. The experiences of the Govindarajan couple will definitely ignite quite a few to make fresh beginnings at any age for it is better late than never.

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