Thalassery has a very rich visual arts history. It was the center of chirakkal, kottayam and Kadathanad Kings and was also a center of education which contributed to its evolution as arts and sculpture center. Dr. M.D. Raghavan has written about the Chellath cave paintings at Punnol in Thalassery. Most of the paintings do not exist now. But their remains indicate the rich cultrual heritage of Kerala.
The wall painitings on the Thiruvangad Vadakedam Temple show that Kerala had a history of nural paintings also. Interestingly this was a period when people like artists were not allowed into the temple. One of the most striking examples of Keralas artistic history are the paintings on the Thiruvangad temple walls.
These creations were done by the Perunthachans whose artistic abilities are visible on the doors and prayer halls of the Thiruvangad temple. This is also visible in the Odathil mosque. The parashuram idol in the Thrukkai Shiva Temple is also a example of artistic excels. The ability of the Pariyaram artists is also evident in the idol installed by Shri Narayana Guru at the Jaganatha Temple.
The colours of these idols were decided by Shir Raman who later established the Cochin School of Arts. He was also the inspiration for C.V. Balan Nair who Thalassery can never forget. Balan Nair set up 'The Kerala School of Arts' which is now functioning on 27 cents of land at Manjodi in Thalassery. Another great artist from Thalassery was M.P. Achuthan Master who was the teacher at BEMP High School. Another great contribution of Thalassery was Sanjayan who mermerised people with his humour and writing.
The Kottayam Thamburan who scaled new heights in Kathakali had Thalassery as a stage.
Thalassery has nothing much to boast of a culture of paintings. The Konkani and Tamil families settled in Thalassery, used to draw kolangal at their homes as a sign for welcoming the god of prosperity. However, ritualistic powder paintings were prevalent in and around Thalassery even in the earlier days. There used to be drawings with five coloured powder at the Thiruvangad Sri Rama swamy temple and at the Koormba Kavu as part of their rituals. At the Thiruvangad temple powder paintings are drawn by ‘Karuppans’ as part of the theyyambadi dances (Sri Kottath Krishnan Nambiar is the famous person of the North for the powder paintings). There were a class of skilled persons called ‘kidarans’ at Thalassery who were experts in painting the wooden carvings with natural colours. Nobody working in that field is available in thalassery these days.
Thalassery was a good platform for the visual and folk arts like ‘Theyyam’, ‘Thira’, ‘Nina bali’, ‘Malayan Kettu’ and classical visual art forms like ‘Kathakali’ and ‘Chakyar koothu’. Thalassery could bring the art form ‘Kathakali’ down to the masses which was traditionally the art form of upper classes. The history has blessed Thalassery with a great culture of visual art.