As a child, clay always fascinated GL Narayan, a sculptor and painter. He would go to the banks of a nallah, when in school and make figures out of it. From making small clay figures to making Ganesh idols in marble and exhibiting them all over the world, this 76-year old sculptor has surely carved a niche for himself.
But one of his best experiences till date would have to be a request to sculpt a five ft eight inches tall Ganesh idol for Mukesh Ambani's new home in Altamount Road in Mumbai. Talking about it, he says, "My friend and interior designer Varsha Desai approached me to do the project for the Ambanis. My other friend Malvika was also instrumental in introducing me to the Ambanis." The Ganesh idol is made from Makrana white marble and weighs over seven tonnes. "I used to go to Jaipur to work on the marble and the idol was done in around six months," says Narayan.
"As a child I would make clay figurines for a film-maker in my hometown Jeypore in Orissa and he would give me free movie tickets in return. The then Maharaja of Orissa, Vikram Dev Varma also appreciated my art and I was the first student in his art school," he says. He came to Mumbai in the 1950s to pursue arts and sculpture from the JJ School or Arts. "I used to do odd jobs at the film studios in Mumbai to fund my stay in Mumbai," says Narayan, a gold medalist at the JJ School of Arts.
He has sculpted figurines using clay, terracotta and bronze. But marble fascinated him the most. "I have been making marble Ganesh since the 1980s but I have stopped making them now, excepting the one for Ambanis. I am now focusing on my pictoral book titled Understanding Mahabharata," says Narayan, whose works have been bought by eminent personalities such as Indira Gandhi and Zakir Hussain. He has exhibited his work all over the country and abroad too. He was honoured in San Jose, USA by the North America Telugu Association.
He has studied astrology extensively. "I chose making Ganesh idols as he symbolises prosperity and wisdom. The idol which I have made for the Ambanis has an omkar in his stomach which represents that the lord is the saviour of the earth and its beings," he says.
Narayan made Pune his home ten years back after staying for over 30 years in Mumbai. "Life in Mumbai was becoming miserable due to the crowd and chaos. In Pune I found peace and tranquility. I can cook, paint and live in peace here," says Narayan.