The 5th Kao International Environment Painting Contest for Children opened on March 25, 2014. In total, from 30 countries and regions, the contest received 8,753 entries (Japan, 2,032; other countries and regions, 6,721). From these, the judges selected one entry for the "eco-together - Planet Earth Grand Prix", six for the "eco together - Kao Prize", and 25 for the "Eco Friend Prize". Below, along with an account of the selection process and general comments by the judges, there is information about the prize winning works and the awards ceremony.
I drew this picture thinking about eco things that we all should do, and they are all things that are fun. In the forest, the animals don't need electricity or gas to enjoy bath time. They get light from candles and their used bathwater goes for washing clothes or watering flowers. The rabbit is having a great time taking a shower. Even though it was hard, I painted birds bringing water from the river.
In this painting of everyone bathing in a flying bath, the idea of treating water with respect is conveyed. Rather than sticking solely to conservation and toleration of cutting back, the work celebrates the cultural role of bathing in Japan. It communicates a sense of having fun while making the environment better. Borne aloft by small birds, the bath is heated from below by burning logs. Candle illumination also reminds us to avoid using electricity. With the arbitrary perspective of laundry hung between two trees, and featuring polka dots, mushrooms under a nozzle, and other touches freely drawn from a child's point of view, this work lingers in the memory.
My father told me, "When creatures die they return to the soil." The soil lets plants grow. I drew how even the animals I love must one day return to the soil. Then, they become trees and they become flowers.
Rather than spouting water, this whale looks as if it is sprouting a tree. It explores the theme 'all creatures return to the earth'. Buried in the ground, a whale boldly occupies the full width of the picture. A yellow force field emanates from this whale and energizes creatures such as the elephant and birds, the fruit ripening on the large tree, and glows around other particles and organisms. The painting radiates childlike thinking and vitality. Even when viewed from a distance, the beautiful coloring attracts the eye.
I wanted to use this drawing to express a Romanian proverb I have heard since I was a child: "Do good, and you will find goodness". Over the years, I've realized that it is true even when referring to nature. If you take care of a tree, the tree gives you shade and clear air. If you plant flowers, the flowers give off beauty and a sweet smell; if you care for birds, they give back to you in their songs every morning.
You wonder if the figure is about to step towards you. The narrative power of the image is so strong it draws into its world of fantasy. As well as the wonderful notion the feet being rooted, it glows with other delicate depictions, including ladybugs swarming on the branches, limbs which lead to hands where birds and owls are perching. The world is also placed in the heart. In Japan we have little knowledge of the children of Moldova, but this painting gave us a glimpse of the kind of future and environment they hope for. This work excited the judges.
Around my house, the environment is very beautiful and comfortable. Before planting a tree, I am taking some time to help recycle waste products. My two friends are producing cooking fuel from cow dung. We also use Jatropha seeds to make alternative fuel. After processing the seeds, we feed the waste to the cows. Filtered rainwater provides us with extra water. Electricity comes from sunlight and the flow of the river. I hope that all the people on Earth will care about the environment!
The picture is dense with knowledge about the intersection of eco issues and daily life. Each detail has concise meaning and, just by looking, it is easy to understand what we could do to lead better lives. In the picture, the way that the subjects are all connected is impressive. The level of finish is so high that the picture could even appear in a textbook. In a broad view showing a car running on biofuel, solar generation, and other forms of renewable energy, it was delightful to also see single leaves drawn for visual identification.
I was born in a tropical city which is crowded and full of motorbikes, resulting in over-crowded roads. The city is full of vehicle emissions which stifle people. That's why my mother washed me every day after I returned home, but I do not remember when she started to do so. And now that I have to take care of myself, I wash my hair and body every time I come home from school. I would feel uneasy and uncomfortable if I did not do so. For me, they are addictive. After having a bath, I feel very refreshing and relieved, as if I have removed all the clinging dirt of the city.
Rather than just leaving the shower flowing, making a case for water conservation, we suppose that the water filling the bucket is used for washing her hair. Turned back towards the viewer, the face is shaded as if lit by sunlight coming through a window. The brushwork and color selection, including the pink clothing, are all handled with artistry. We appreciated the gradation of green on the walls, the shower head poking through the window, the light blue of the flowing water, and the reflection of the faucet on the water. The painter has a promising future in art.
I wanted to show how love of nature must be planted in the hearts of children, so I drew a picture showing the lives of people and nature and, in particular, the self-sufficiency culture of the Thai people. Based on the King's philosophy, the Thai people aim to live in a self-sufficient and well-balanced way. As a people, we are well–adjusted and stay self-sufficient in times of big changes and strong competition. In a world of globalization, we aim to live a sustainable life for a long time to come.
This looks like a self-portrait. It shows someone who loves making pictures. The girl has drawn a mandala-like world in suppressed pale tones. By her side, the crayons and paints are arranged in a bold, angled, rhythmic pattern. The hole in her sock also seems to be of great significance. Many pictures from Southeast Asia have cluttered compositions, but here the artist has harnessed the busy energy to express another layer of meaning. This structure, which the judges had not seen before, was highly rated.
I've drawn a lot of people on the street recycling all sorts of things like bottles, newspapers and batteries. We need to recycle our resources well because there's only one Earth, so everyone needs to work together to look after it.
Thinking about possible solutions for the advanced urbanized society of Taiwan, directly linked with reality, the painter has created a scene showing paper and bottle recycling, trash clean up, and other practical eco activities that anyone can participate in. People have set out the things they want to recycle on the paving stones of a road and deeper back, in perspective, you can see shopkeepers in roadside stores. Painted mainly with highly saturated red and yellow hues, the overall composition works well. The artist has great pictorial sense. It is a very powerful work.
Based on what she has learned so far, the message, 'Do what you can do', is squeezed into an expanse of white space. The work communicates a sense of everyone taking care of water to create a green and leafy homeland.
Among the numerous works featuring water and animals, this picture emphasizes the importance of the sun. Drawn from the heart, the scene tells the viewer about the place where the artist lives.
In a picture representing an ideal world, birds and flowers crowd a heart. It communicates a childlike sense of fun and hope for how things can be. The touches of color bleed and bright hues make it an eye catching work.
With an effect reminiscent of batik dyeing techniques, this closely packed work depicts tree planting and other environmental activities. It conveys the child's enthusiasm both for painting and for the environment.
In a still landscape, a tree is swaying in the wind. Implying "Let's harness the power of the wind", the picture shows impressive maturity of vision.
When you eat organic food, everything that is left becomes a resource that returns to the soil. While this image may be seen as a protest against the use of chemicals, the circulation represented by a rainbow and stars shows an image of abundant happiness.
Through a magnifying glass, a child is examining an earthworm which is helping a tree to grow. Seeming to say "Hey! You shouldn't do that!", the child is also holding back a bird that wants to eat the worm. A desire to observe the workings of nature really comes through.
A person seems to have arms outspread to embrace a tree, perhaps to absorb natural energy. In a powerfully dynamic composition, a bright patch of sky peeps through the canopy. Or does the image show a pond reflecting back the sky? The work is interesting because there are different ways of looking at it.
I see the Sun, Moon, and Earth meeting in a summit. The Sun seems positive, the Moon more passive, and it looks as if the Earth seems grateful to have good friends. It is a very mature work.
Depicting how water circulates, the artist succeeds in advocating a way of life in which water, provided by nature, is properly used and returned to nature. The painting also gives the viewer a strong sense of natural surroundings in Kenya.
Without using common motifs or literal representation, hopes for tomorrow and dreams for the future, in great style, are beautifully expressed using decisive coloring and composition.
The scene shows the traditional shadow puppet theater of Indonesia being used to entertainingly teach everyone about the environment. The expression is simple but perceptively forward-looking.
Visually inspired by a snail shell, the painter shows life in an eco house that uses natural energy. The child has visualized his aspirations for his architect parents: "I want to become an architect, too, and this is the kind of house I want to build."
Who can resist smiling at this picture of a car gathering its own fuel: dung and materials from trees? It is based on proper understanding of composting and biogas production.
To help them on their way, baby sea turtles are being released in the sea. Depicted in a lively way, the artist shows how excited the children are. Distinctive haircuts draw the eye in an image that communicates the expansive spirit of the Thai people.
In a vision in which science and technology merge with nature to create the future, wind and solar power generation are melded with a large tree. It is interesting that the solar panels may also be seen as yellow flowers.
Here, some of the painted surface has been scratched back to bare paper. Eliciting a tactile response, the work has the line and touch of a printing plate. Human eco activities have also been interesting rendered in a distinctive color scheme.
A scratch technique has been used. Intriguingly, trash gathering, wind power generation, and other eco activities are shown in darker tones that contrast with the lighter, brightly saturated hues of the hands symbolizing peace.
People are watering seedling trees, but the water reflects the mature trees of the future. It seems as if the forest, fully grown over time, is watching over everyone.
It is easy to say, "If it gets hot, let's sleep up on the roof and avoid using electricity." This picture, however, communicates the fact with a feeling happiness and being blessed.
Many works from Southeast Asia are densely packed with items and details. This is the first we have seen that so boldly utilizes white space while colorfully representing various worlds on the body of an elephant.
It looks as if everyone has been studying about the environment at school. Afterwards, they have doodled on the blackboard. The impression is of people who enjoy learning.
A door is opening on a dark field dotted with human eyes. Through the door lies barren landscape of mounds of rubble. The work presents a desolate, surreal image that also points towards a ray of hope.
People put their combined knowledge to work to protect all-important trees. This bold composition puts trees, not people, at the center. It is also refreshing to see a palette that largely eschews the greens and blues so often used in eco themes.
In this picture of a seedling being watered, the endearing way the small animals are drawn shows how much the artist cherishes plants and animals. The color combinations are also very pretty, but what shines through is the sincere way the child expresses how things can be.
View the winning entries of the 5th contest here.
Impartial and independent contest judges were scrupulously fair throughout the selection process. After preliminary screening of the original 8,753 works, in the final selection, the judges awarded the "eco-together - Planet Earth Grand Prix" to the single best work. Six works were selected for an "eco together - Kao Prize", and 25 for an "Eco Friend Prize".
This painting contest originally solicited works inspired by 'eco together' and, this seemed to attract paintings that trumpeted similar messages. Arriving now at the fifth contest, I feel that the contestants have gradually come express themselves with greater reality and are more honestly expressing their true concerns as children. I think these changes and effects have become more apparent precisely because the contest has continued. Environmental problems are a major concern for every person on the planet Earth. Children closely observe what's going on around them and put their hearts into their paintings. That is why we always take their works seriously and will continue to experience tension during the judging process.
With each contest, I feel that the children are thinking more deeply. We are seeing more diversity and more works that present a powerful message. As a judge, it is a privilege to be exposed to the spiritual richness in these collections full of colorful paintings brimming with the hopes and dreams of children. The great thing about these contests is that they show, from various angles, how children see the environment in their own land and so provide the opportunity to nurture ideas. Because painting is a message from the heart, I can only hope that many children will keep on entering this painting contest.
In the current age of information, wherever you are in the world, you can equally easily lay your hands on various kinds of information. Even though we now live in a global culture, these children, by drawing their varied dreams and hopes for the future, have brought home to me the reality of the local. Children breathe the air of their land, eat local food, and spend time with their families, and then they use their hands to draw. They express locality in the actions of their everyday lives. Judging is a valuable experience that enables us to get a deeper understanding of environmental issues at so many levels and from so many angles. While it is important for us to have information at our fingertips, I still want to see young artists expressing how life feels in their locality.
Once again, the contest this year attracted a great number of paintings. I would like to tell all the entrants that the winning works here are not necessarily outstanding compared to the others, rather they are representative of the general high quality of entries. We have been able to receive messages in pictures from different countries painted by the different children who live there. I am pleased to see how children are being raised to care about the world, and that these children look around and show us problems in places that we do not know much about. That is why I hope the contests receive, even if only as single entries, paintings from more places in the world. Paintings communicate messages better than any words.
As I became aware of the heartful effort made by each child, I was moved by every painting I examined. Seeing each land and environmental theme portrayed in a readily understandable way, I realized how painting is a universal language. These pictures force us to think anew about how we adults should respond to the messages sent by children. Rather than simply say "We will continue to solve environmental problems", it is important to let it be known how we intend to meet the challenges pointed out to us by children.
When judging pictures drawn by children of their own country and reflecting the environmental problems they face, I have to confront and set aside my habitual Japanese ideas about how to deal with eco issues. Giving sincere attention to the thoughts of children, working as I do in a manufacturing company, I feel that adults and corporations have a duty to respond to their concerns. This year, for the first time, the Grand Prix was awarded to a Japanese entrant, an elementary school student. Since the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Japanese entries have tended to realistically deal with water saving, power saving, recycling, and other issues. I think the entrants are now moving away from that and we are seeing more works that look forward to a brighter future.
On December 13, 2014, the final day of the Eco-Products 2014 show at Tokyo Big Sight, the awards ceremony was held at the Kao Booth. Selected from 8,753 entries from 30 countries and regions (2,032 from Japan and 6,721 from elsewhere), the top seven paintings were awarded either the "eco together - Planet Earth Grand Prix" or an "eco together - Kao Prize". After Professor Fumikazu Masuda, Chair of the judging committee, gave an appraisal of each work, Kao Corporation President and CEO Michitaka Sawada presented an award plaque and a souvenir gift to each winner, and Furi Morikawa and Ecaterina Cojocaru said a few words on behalf of the winners.
Interviewed after the awards ceremony, the prizewinners were asked questions, such as: How did it feel to find out you had won? What did you want to express in your picture? How did you hit on the ideas you used in your painting? What do you think is the best way to look after the environment? What are your hopes and dreams for the future?