The 6th Kao International Environment Painting Contest for Children opened on March 2, 2015. In total, from 37 countries and regions, the contest received 12,456 entries (Japan, 2,450; other countries and regions, 10,006). 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.
Tree is a natural heritage, which is magnificent and diverse in its own right. It is a natural representative of growth and prosperity. Tree is a tremendously valuable resource for all. It is a resource of abundant food, ecological system, medicinal herbs, and habitat for wildlife. Tree also purifies air and decreases the wash down of soil. With its verdant color, tree can be a place for recreation. When tree is destroyed, it is extremely difficult to restore. Therefore, we should take care of the tree and the forest as best as we can so that tree will be with us forever.
The painting depicts the bountiful production of things from the Earth. Amply communicating well-being and euphoria, all around a tree bearing all kinds of fruit, thoroughly delighted people celebrate the harvest. Their hopefulness counteracts the news of disasters and other sad events that have colored the news in recent years. Even though plenty of fruit, animal, human, and other motifs appear, the arrangement and coloring are well balanced and combine into a wonderful composition. The light at the top of the tree seems to be the light of hope, and this imparts a narrative sense across the whole painting. Everything, from the great color sense and technique to the effective communication of a message, works to make this painting a worthy Grand Prix winner.
I went with my mother to plant cassava. I think cassava is a very useful resource. Besides being eatable, it can also be used to produce fuel as an alternative for petroleum. Energy from cassava fuel causes no air pollution, which is a very good thing.
This painting radiates the energy of the land and is full of earthy scents. While depicting a highly typical scene from everyday life, it shows the joy of people living with the natural world. Attracting the eye, this bold composition stood out among numerous other densely detailed works. In this scene, the faces of the people planting out cuttings give the impression that they are enjoying the work. On land that spreads beyond our view, the coloring of the clothes worn by the three people tightens the whole picture into a powerful composition. The choice of materials, with watercolor used for the background and a change to crayons for the people, is also a distinctive touch.
Our Earth has been brought to the edge of destruction by water pollution, air pollution, and illegal forest clearance. I wanted to say that everyone should join together and act to save the Earth for future generations.
A bird has nested on the back of an infant and in the nest some chicks are energetically chirping. There is also a golden monkey snuggling up against the child. Among the foliage, a new-born turtle is about to walk away. The dream this child is having is surely a happy one. Life force and compassion gush from every part of the painting. When you look at it, your spirit is soothed. The serene look on the faces of the baby and the monkey gives a further lift to the overall heartwarming impression and feeling of benevolence. It reminds us that human beings are part of nature and stimulates deep reflection about how we are shaping our destiny.
If you go into the center of Tokyo, even at night, there is always light from building windows and neon. My painting expresses the hope that people will turn off the lights they don't use. Then we may be able to again see the starry skies and experience moonlight.
With all the lights of the city switched off, the beautiful night sky becomes visible. The unique composition plants the simple message in the viewer's heart. Among the buildings stretching up towards the night sky, defying perspective, some seem askew, and this adds interest. The overall color tone of the buildings is well done. In the corners, even though the buildings are done in darker shades, the effect is not murky: the feel of city buildings is properly evoked by the painting. The distinctive deep color of the night sky is also accurately conveyed. The calm tone is not somber or sad, and this instills hopefulness. Among the many other brightly colored paintings, this work was especially refreshing.
My Dream Train is working on solar energy, a contemporary, renewable, non-conventional energy resource. The sun is the source of all energy on the earth. It is most endless, inexhaustible and universal source of energy. Also no carbon will be produced, so it will keep earth green. I also dream that people will maximize use of public transport and so directly minimize fuel consumption. By using public transport, we reduce the carbon footprint and conserve energy. Everyone can complete their journeys using fewer total vehicle miles, which cuts emissions.
The scene shows the crush of people on the platforms of a railway station. You can almost hear the hubbub of the station and feel the constant throbbing pulse of people coming and going. The work has an uplifting effect. With solar panels on the roofs of the trains this entire painting, replete with the energy of urban India, effectively communicates a simple message: "Let's all use trains that run on solar power." Or, "For clean city air, use public transport." This powerful picture puts the viewer in mind of a possible better future. You feel a sense of hope that providence is leading us, beyond usual common sense and prevalent expectations, in a positive direction.
In the summer, most dangerous for farmers are hail and drought. In this regard, various conjurations and rituals were executed for provoking rainfall and preventing hail. Such rites are "butterfly", "German", rites and dances performed on Midsummer day, "Chasing the dragon", etc. I love to draw themes from Bulgarian folklore. We recreate moments from our past, history and traditions which we have not forgotten up to the present, and that is why, over the centuries, we have survived as a nation.
Traditional rainmaking rites in Bulgaria. It seems the artist wanted to show how local culture and long-cherished customs and the eco concerns of today can go hand and hand into the future. Indeed, the very breath and atmosphere of rain-making rites in this country are conveyed. The viewer is reminded that people over the world, in their everyday lives, continue to perform traditional rites related to nature. This weighty painting shows us that such customs are very much alive in Bulgaria, and you can feel how big a role they play. Its sincerity firmly supports one side of the exchange between different cultures. The pink clouds, the dark green of the human shadows, and other touches demonstrate a superb sense of color.
As more and more factories were built on the Earth, the environment became worse and worse. Finally, the small birds had enough. They decided to unite and take revenge on hateful human beings. Some of them took hoses for spraying water, others waved flags to encourage their partners. They hoped to stop pollution and smoke by dousing the chimneys. All the young birds truly hoped a day would come when they could once more grow up happily in clear skies without chimneys.
Colors and shapes are excellently balanced in this wonderful work. The Chinese characters shown on painting mean "Go for it!" Rendered with interesting expressions and rich colors, the birds truly seem united and going all out to stop smoke pouring from chimneys and clean up the skies. This child understands what a thing it is to have the dirty air hanging over the land. The portrayal of each bird seems to express the energy and determination of the children of China. When you realize that there are children creating positive works like this, you feel there is hope for future of the Earth.
The rural scenes depicted on the snail's shell and the delicate rendering of the leaf are impressive. At the bottom, different time zones are shown on the line of clocks placed on flags of various countries: this also seems to show the solidarity of citizens of the world.
Various messages are densely incorporated a composition featuring lots of people, a beautiful sea, and colorful fish. While the feeling is carefree and child-like, it is expressed with calm color tones and sophisticated sensibility.
Showing colorful hope cancelling out black smoke, the picture gives the impression that ways will be found to solve the problem of air pollution. The artist displays superb ability, especially in the wonderful quality of the black smoke, which has the look of oil paint.
White birds are flying near a tree penetrated by beautiful rays of sunlight. Growing from the comfortable central placement of the tree, a refreshing space that communicates the harmony of the natural world has been created. The fresh growth of green leaves transmits a feeling of hope for the future.
An encounter with plants and animals in grassland. The image makes a persuasive case for the sincere and uncomplicated desire to ensure that places like this will always exist. Even though many primary colors are used, overall, they are organized well by an artist who displays superb color sense.
On the edge of a city with some very modern buildings, in a scene that includes a highly advanced electric vehicle, animals and plants live in a natural setting. Various closely observed elements are successfully rendered by this highly skilled illustrator.
Electricity generated by a windmill supports the lives of people living in houses nearby. While the expression is bright and unrestrained, details such as the fine white lines representing the wind turning the rotors of the windmill are subtly executed.
At first, it looks as if people are lounging in a field under beautiful, blue sky. When you look more closely, you can see that garbage is being properly sorted into specific bins. The air of complete relaxation is intriguing.
Centered on a motif that suggests both flowers and a citrus fruit, this painting seems to express an image of nature. It helps us contemplate a positive future as our lives unfold before us.
Daringly, the artist has tightly packed major natural phenomena into a house. The disorderliness of nature is impressively contrasted with the settled look on the faces of the people. The walls of the house express more than a sense of containment: the image arouses a feeling of wanting to live in harmony with nature.
Changing a light bulb is usually an unremarkable event of daily life, but here it seems to be taking place at a family reunion. In this painting, colored by family relations in a specific country, we can see a universal act taking place. The vivid green background and other coloring are excellent.
A vacuum cleaner shaped like a fluorescent light is sucking up incandescent bulbs. This is a unique idea. The regal pose and the overall composition are also good. Deliberately using black paper, the artist has demonstrated painstaking care and uses color expressively.
In bed at night, a young child dreams of a beautiful world. An ingenuous desire to protect the natural environment comes straight out of the picture. With painterly skill, this work expresses the innocence of childhood.
The painting shows three people who might be actors on a stage. Bearing water, creatures, and plants defiled by humans, they have solemn expressions of self-admonition, and you can tell that they have a love for nature. The work transmits a powerful message.
Conserve water, and use electricity generated by water, solar panels, or other natural sources. Rendered in pastel colors, the work has a gentle look, but from the details drawn inside the house, it expresses high eco awareness.
The sea is clean and clear, a fresh breeze is blowing. It is easy to understand the sentiment: "We want to go on living like this." There is a comfortable feeling evoked by the unrestrained use of paint and other art materials.
A lively looking child, eyes full of feeling for the natural world, holds a leafy cutting. Even though the coloring is somewhat subdued, the whole picture is marked by a child-like brightness and innocence.
In a dense composition with colors typical of paintings from Indonesia, the interwoven daily lives of people and plants and animals in the natural world are depicted with dynamic balance. The work is a talented portrayal of the chain of life on Earth.
An orange glow surrounds a shape that may be a great Buddha. The eyes are flower-like renditions of the sun and the crescent smile of the mouth cradles some beautiful sea. The figure is strewn with varied elements in vivid colors that create a strong impression.
This distinctive painting of a person and potted plants brings to mind scenes from Japanese folk tales. The colors and the elements are handled very well, and it stands out because of the imposing tree, which does not blend into the background.
Showing a tabletop gently lit by candles, the scene depicts the life of a family that, foregoing the use of electricity, glows in the company of other family members. The universal theme of family ties is represented with verve.
Holding a single cherished flower, is that the sun in tears? The image has a strong narrative that tugs at the heart strings. Each of the structural elements is well formed and the composition has a wonderful dynamism. White is also used to very good effect.
As well as recycling resources and generating electricity using wind power, this prescription for a sick Earth includes using bottles both for water conservation and for growing trees. The viewer sees in the stories, detailed one by one, effective means of environmental conservation.
Kids are pulling together to wrench a plug from its socket. It seems that there has been some tree planting to protect the Earth. This excellent design is created by the disposition of the human motifs and other elements. The contrast of yellow and blue hues is also impressive.
People and other living things coexist against a backdrop of city buildings. Reaching out to the other creatures, the hands are full of love. The coloring, the way the subjects are drawn with a pen, and the delicacy of the contouring make this an eye-catching work.
View the winning entries of the 6th contest here.
Impartial and independent contest judges were scrupulously fair throughout the selection process. After preliminary screening of the original 12,456 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".
It is now six years since this annual contest started. This time, the entrants generally understood the underlying aims. Overall, the thematic content of the works and their expressive power reached even higher levels. Wherever I looked, the unique viewpoints of contestants caught my eye. In order to continue to encourage this fertile originality, I keenly felt how important it is to keep the contest going. Looking at the prizewinning works, there is real depth in the pictorial communications of these young people. A single word - environment - can be interpreted in diverse ways but, confidently resolving contradictions with their merciless clarity of vision, children intuitively arrive at the truth. This year, I again felt hopeful and look forward to spending time in the future world that these children help to build.
Color sense, compositional and expressive ability, and effective presentation of the message: these elements were present in all the entries. It was a surprise to the judges, mature and experienced though we are, to be so often taken unaware, and be so deeply affected, as we looked at the works of these children. All too often during the past few years, throughout the world, disasters have been occurring. If we are to improve the state of the global environment, it is clear that more effort must be made to steer a better course. Once again benefitting from the privilege of judging this contest, knowing that more children are submitting entries, I feel renewed hope that the coming generation will continue to find ways to make the environment better.
Through these pictures, based on a common theme, and created by the world's children, we are able both to view ways of life rooted in the cultures of various countries, and to see common issues faced by the children of today. It is absolutely intriguing how, from this kind of painting contest, we can acquire broad and deep insight into the world of today. Meanwhile, we are also reminded that growing children have their own view of adults. In the pictures that children paint, we can see how adults appear in different countries. There simply is no substitute for the purity of children. It is something to be treasured. As this contest spreads across the globe, the paintings of children will play a role in uniting the world.
In a trend I warmly welcome, the final prizewinning decisions took into account how effectively the work expressed the locality of its creation. The questions are simple. Why can't we have clean air and water? What do we have to do to make them clean? The answers are probably quite simple, too. In their paintings, the children show us things that adults fail to see. It seems this blindness can only be remedied using the eyes of children. I got this sense not only from the winning works, but from all the paintings in general. The artists were concerned with how to protect and improve their comfort of life. Most of the artists used their hearts rather than their minds to answer the question, "What are the things we have to protect?"
While viewing these works, I kept wondering, "What was the thought that compelled the creation of this picture? The selection of subjects, the mode of drawing, and the use of color all communicated the sincerity of children and, time and time again, before I knew what was happening, this sincerity captured my heart. We have to ensure that the Earth remains beautiful when the children of today become adults. That is the duty of responsible adults. With that in mind, taking part in manufacturing, at Kao, we deeply consider what we can do. When I see paintings by children, I again feel the responsibility that society and corporations have to forever keep the Earth as a place where people all over the world can enjoy their lives.
Fearlessly facing some weighty and all-too-real issues, using their own eyes, these young artists displayed a firm grasp of concerns such as atmospheric pollution and population problems. While adults carefully weigh the issues and end up in a maze of anxiety, children approach the same problems as children, and I was impressed with their flexible thinking and positive responses. Consequently, my confidence is greatly renewed when I think about the future of the Earth. This year, because children from more countries and regions entered the contest, we were able to see pictures proposing more diverse ways to solve the Earth's problems. When children all over the world see the prizewinning works, they will see more than these environmental proposals: I think they will also be delighted to gain insight into life in other countries.
On December 12, 2015, the final day of the Eco-Products 2015 show at Tokyo Big Sight, the awards ceremony was held at the Kao Booth. Selected from 12,456 entries from 37 countries and regions (2,450 from Japan and 10,006 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. After this, representing the prizewinners, Thatchaphon Kaeokamkong gave a speech, The value of the blessings and happiness that trees bring to people. He spoke of the message in his painting and mentioned his impressions of visiting Japan for the first time.
Then, in an interview session, the prizewinning young artists spoke about their countries and what happens in their daily lives. They also mentioned environmental issues and what they wanted to express in their works.