Back in the fifties, the spot was part of an uninhabited stretch of sand with casaurina plantations. At that time, most of the artists who live and work here now were students of the Government school of Arts and crafts, Chennai (Previously known as Madras).It has completed almost four decades of existence autonomously.
What is remarkable about its development is that it has grown into what it is now, without any funding or support from the government, quasi-governmental bodies, charitable foundations, art bodies like Lalit Kala Academy or persons apart from the small grant that it is entitle to, like any other art organization in the country.
The land where the artists set up their village was purchased with their own money. They built everything including their houses, studios, gallery, theatre, workshop and kitchen, on their own. On the whole, the artists who make up this settlement owe their village and the living they have managed out of it to nobody's charity, patronage, munificence or eccentricity.
Towards the end of the fifties many painters and sculptors in the school of Arts and Crafts joined hands with him in search of what amounted to a new way of life in contemporary art. This was an exciting venture, which soon proved to be exacting as well.
For a living, the artists here practiced as art teachers in schools or as designers but they were permitted too little time for sustained creative work. Part time work of two or three hours a day where the artists could freely extend their art on to a congenial craft of utilitarian nature appeared to be the answer. But a couple of years down the line, a need for a residential work-centre for artists at a conducive place preferably near the sea on the outskirts of the coastal city with transport facilities and Cholamandal was born. Since an ancient dynasty named Chola that encouraged arts ruled this area in the Coromandel Coast, it was baptized as Cholamandal.