The Kao Group has held this contest annually since 2010, with the aim of encouraging children around the world to think seriously about conservation of the environment around them and of the earth, as well as about the earth's future, and express their thoughts in paintings, which will also hopefully encourage people around the world to take action to preserve the environment.
For this eleventh contest, we received 12,884 entries from all over the world. Despite of COVID-19 disaster, many works from around the world reached to us.
We will introduce 32 of these entries with the children's message through their paintings, which have been selected under strict criteria.
A chameleon is an animal that changes its body color in response to the environment. We live on the earth like a giant chameleon clinging to this planet. Whether it becomes colorful or dim depends on ourselves.
A particularly humorous piece with a chameleon disguised as the earth, spawning new life on its back, drawing energy from the earth. Underneath are serious environmental problems, but on the upper side one sees hopes for the future that the Earth is still alive, and a strong message that we need to protect this planet, our source of life. A wonderful artistic sense of drawing the whole picture in blue, inserting flashes of red.
Early on a clear morning, my sister says to our dad, who was getting ready to go fishing, "Let's go." Upon arriving at the quiet beach, she hurriedly threw the fishing line in the ocean. But she catches a plastic bag! Suddenly we heard a voice from the ocean―This is all your fault!
In the bottom part of the painting one feels the terrifying coldness of the seabed and wants to look upward. The handling of light is marvelous, creating a sense of movement even though the entire painting is quiet. The moment I noticed that the floating objects were plastic bags, and there are absolutely no lifeforms around, I felt lonely and terrified. But discovering the boat on the surface gives a sense of relief, showing hope that there must still be something we can do. The plastic bags look like melted icebergs. Perhaps the painting is indirectly expressing the impact of our actions on the environment.
People around the world should get together and start protecting our planet, which is in danger. Humans impact the physical environment in many ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water. If we continue with our earth-destructing habits, our planet will be full of unhealthy gas and garbage. Trees contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, achieving climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. Planting and taking care of our trees, plants, flowers can help clean our environment. We should protect our only chance of life, which is our planet, by taking care of our environment and our home. Not protecting the environment is denying the reality of global warming, and the danger of our world. A Clean Environment Is Essential for Healthy Living.
Not all the trees are treated as one, but each tree is depicted uniquely. A one-of-the-kind entry I have never seen before, with unique sensitivity. Trees from different regions with different characteristics are painted meticulously, skillfully expressing the preciousness of life, each striving to survive on the land. The portrayal of humans is also touching, taking care of the trees in different ways according to the needs of each tree. Colors are simple but reflect the diversity of life.
What I wanted to express through my drawing is the dream most of us have about "the perfect earth" and the fantasy of everything changing so magically and instantly. Like, radically, oceans being clean, air being pure, nature taking place again, people being concerned... The truth is that for all of this happening, we'll have to fight. Because, although loads of people have said it, we have reached too far, and not for a good way. I think this fantasy is very far away if people keep acting like nothing is happening. But if we insist, together, we will reach our dream.
What we see here is the polluted earth shedding its old skin and regaining its original beauty. It is a poignant cry from the child, that this crisis situation on Earth must somehow be resolved, and that the future should shine brightly. The subdued colors are placed in the lower half of the image and brighter colors in the upper part, creating dynamism in the painting, and even a sense of time in that the earth is rotating toward the future. The earth is made to resemble a costume. Excellent design aspect.
Birds! We feel nothing while saying "birds." Do we know what birds actually are? No we don't know what are birds. They are a part of nature. They have their families. Lives like humans. Humans are locked in their home due to COVID-19. Now they can feel how birds are feeling when they are put in a cage.
Whether inside or outside the cage they are all the same variety of bird but are stressed differently according to the situation. For the first time in our lives we humans have become aware of this, being unable to go outside of our cages, or homes, in the coronavirus lockdown. We always said we should put ourselves in the animals' shoes, but were we really doing that? Wasn't the idea entirely self-centered in the first place, putting humans first? The painting sends out that message in vivid colors. A painting that captures 2020 well.
My picture shows the natural were created to make our world beautiful. Living in a good environment is be happy and delightful. A simple life of coexisting with nature and dependence between people and the natural environment. People depend on each other and help each other to preserve the beautiful environment which is a way to live a happy life.
An outstanding entry that meticulously portrays Thailand, where people are deeply religious and thankful in everyday life. It is not a life of luxury, but people are seen respecting everything around them such as nature, daily living, tradition, and faith, regarding them as one as they go about their daily lives. The painting reminds us that this is part of the future we should aim toward. The entry is also crafted skillfully, creating an atmosphere full of light of hope.
The Earth is an imperfect place. There are many problems such as air pollution, deforestation, and wild-animals extinction. The Earth is, nonetheless, the only place among hundreds of planets and stars we are living in. My drawing shows people across the nations with different backgrounds and abilities – like children, the elderly, and even people with disability – working hand-in-hand to stitch the Earth's wound back together. It is now the time for everyone to help restore our one and only Earth for future generations.
The painting shows the unique perspective of the child, as the earth takes on an extraordinary shape, showing that the painter was thinking out of the box that the earth should always be round. Every year we see many entries based on the earth motif, but the children come from different backgrounds and pick different eras. This entry is very much "this year" as many people, young and old, men and women of all races, are working together, furiously trying to repair the Earth and make it round again. The painting also clearly conveys the message that the world is connected.
Every holiday, my parents took my sister and me back to the fresh air and peaceful village, leaving the cramped, smoggy city. Knowing this, our grandmother went to the garden to pick grapefruit leaves, lemongrass, holy basil, grilled locust and then boiled them all together to make water for washing hair for my sister and me. The scent of leaves and locust imparts a pleasant fragrance and soft feeling to our hair. After having our hair washed, we just pulled our hair and joyfully breathed in. When we returned, our grandmother picked a few bundles of leaves and locusts for us to take back to the city to use a little at a time.
It is not a lavish life of luxury that children want. Rather, with a child's perspective, the painting cries that we can be happy enough by just with water in the well, having fruit, and being with the family we love. There is enough happiness in a simple life and our memories. The painting reminds us of these things that we adults often overlook but shouldn't. The colors are outstanding, being calm yet suggesting there can be a bright future.
I once asked my mother why there is a pipe sticking out of the back of every car. She told me that it was the exhaust gas from a car burning gasoline. Now the world is full of petrol cars and the exhaust gas from cars is polluting the air. At the same time oil resources are drying up. Electric cars will be the future but only a small number of charging station exist in the city. People have no choice.
We saw a lot of big windmills on mountains. In cities and villages, we also saw more and more dark blue solar panels. I hope we can make full use of green and eco-friendly renewable energy to protect the environment.
Every spring I go to my grandma's house for my holidays but no power poles there. In the future, I hope we could build a lot of public charging stations around the world so that we can drive our electric car to my grandma's house and anywhere.
An electric car somehow blends in to an age-old landscape, yet still stands out due to its familiarity. I felt the child's message is that introducing the latest environmentally friendly technologies into our daily lives is something we should strive toward the future. The power probably comes from the windmills on the mountain tops. The message is "Respect nature, and live in harmony with it, using nature's energy." The unique touch is also eye-catching and is much like that of Chinese ink paintings.
Beautiful yet withered-looking flowers. The insects—perhaps butterflies—also look out of sorts. The entry cries out that nature is not exclusively for humans. There is hope in that the child has the sensitivity to feel and think about the world from the insects' perspective.
Countless animals and people are racing toward the trees in the middle, which represent nature. The entry oozes positive power, a strong will to walk forward. The colors and composition are also impactful and eye-catching.
The fact that there is none of the original paper's white space left seems to suggest that the colors bind the world together. The painter wants to link different worlds of animals and humans, which do not usually connect. Wonderful imagination.
A fun entry with a fairytale-like worldview, packed with everything from the beginning of the universe to environmental issues. The child sees the world completely differently from us adults. One can only hope that children will not lose this perspective.
A group of young people working together, each in a different role. Obviously, they are renovating the view out of the big window, where a landscape of dirty industry is replaced sheet by sheet with the vision of a desirable green future. There is not a single modern tool in sight. This submission sends a strong and serious message that we want to work together to solve the problems in our community.
With a giraffe and its baby at the center, the picture brightly shows a happy image of people living in harmony with nature. Are those national flags on the giraffe's body? It appears to be a message for people around the world to look toward this kind of future.
The entry portrays our day-to-day happiness of life in harmony with nature. All animals are pairs of a parent and child, sending out a message that we should pass on the wonders of this world to future generations.
The unique colors are hard to forget. The two children are enjoying themselves on the beach, but one looks stunned at the sight of a source of pollution. The painting depicts the horror of people living the same reality; some notice, yet others miss what reality entails.
The forest is on fire, but human effort alone is not enough to save the animals. The power of nature is helping in the form of a butterfly. The entry sends out a message that we should not be complacent and think that our efforts will bring things under control.
The pleasant chirping of the birds under the conductor's baton is blurred by factory emissions and CO2. The entry comically portrays how we humans scream about co-living, yet we are actually polluting nature.
A family wearing gas masks stands in front of factories belching out smoke. The entry shows the state of the world in a simple way through a child's eye, but the three balloons and bright colors suggest hope for the future overall.
The snow is portrayed as a symbol of nature. Growing out of a rusty car, the tree seems to be sending out a message. A unique entry that can be perceived in many ways in the eye of the beholder.
A bright, fun, ideal world is packed into a bottle. The top of the bottle and the octopus tentacles are yellow, while the colors of the contaminated world outside are subdued. The contrast amplifies hopes for an ideal world.
Are the two children enjoying themselves or are they terrified? It could be seen as either. The painting shows children's anxiety for the future and their concerns and worries for today's world.
The composition is bold, but the colors are carefully placed to ensure they don't mix and blur. The painter is depicting a clear and vivid image, imagining the future of a world in harmony. I could identify closely with the painter's feeling.
This entry expresses spontaneously and unreservedly the child's wish to create a fun and beautiful world. The sense of colors for the nature in the background and the color of the elephant are wonderful, something that adults could never come up with.
People are scooping up plastic waste from the beach and river with a net. We received many entries from various countries and regions on this subject, and this one was particularly unforgettable. It stresses and reminds us once again of the importance of activities to solve environmental issues.
An extremely energetic piece with as many types of creatures as you can think of packed onto one piece of paper. Children are conscious of the presence of many animals in this world and that we are but one type.
As the world gets more polluted, a boy holds close to his body in a goldfish bowl the world's last surviving fish. The fish is a symbol of all life, pleading that nature can exist only on the Earth, which is represented by the limited space of a goldfish bowl.
With all their might, children are supporting an incredibly heavy and usually impossible-to-carry glacier. The entry shows the reality of animals living on the glacier dissolving with global warming. Despite its fun atmosphere, the entry suggests a painfully serious issue.
This entry is an ingenious portrayal of the concept of time and process. With time and effort, we can move from the contaminated world outside to the beautiful one inside. The entry simultaneously suggests that the opposite could also happen unless we make effort.
We use and throw away plastic without a second thought. This is not just an issue we see on the news. The entry tells in a straightforward way that our behavior is causally linked to the destiny of all creatures.
This is possibly the only entry that portrays a waste-filled town so cheerfully. There is no human in sight; only waste is walking around. A unique entry that showcases today's issues with unique sarcasm.
For the eleventh time this year, the contest attracted entries for the first time from Cyprus, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and Macao, with a total of 12,884 entries (1,302 entries from Japan and 11,582 entries from overseas) from all over the world. In the preliminary screening, seven Kao designers screened all the 10,000-plus entries, and then re-screened the short-listed 392 entries for the final selection screening. The key screening criteria included how the entries remind us of the children's desire and approach toward the current diversity and whether the entries are creatively depicted with ideas unique to children. As the room was filled with tension, the seven juries—experts in art and environmental issues—scrutinized every detail one by one and selected the final winners, exchanging their views while surprised at perspective of children and deeply impressed by desire of the youth.
As a result, the "eco together" - Planet Earth Grand Prix (one entry only) was awarded to an eight-year-old girl from Taiwan for her artwork.
The entry was recommended by juries that it sends a strong message that the earth must be protected.
Eight entries won the "eco together" - Kao Prize, and 23 entries (of which seven were endorsed by the juries) won the Eco Friend Prize.
Last year this contest marked its tenth year. We were beginning to see unique entries that broke away from previous patterns, yet this year we witnessed many entries that tackled the "Eco together" theme head on, somewhat returning to the starting point. Meanwhile, we came across many entries that portrayed hopes for the future from the unique perspective of the child, realistically looking at the current status of the Earth, and entries with sharp sensitivity about our times. I hope to continue seeing entries rise to new heights and make this contest an opportunity for us to think about our planet's future.
Many of the entries this year were painted with different perspectives from last year. This is probably largely to do with the fact that children experienced the unprecedented coronavirus situation. The day-to-day lifestyles and values that we took for granted came undone, and it even forced us adults to reevaluate our norms. Undoubtedly it also impacted children's thinking. It is highly interesting that the entries reflect positive changes, suggesting that children's perspectives broadened, and that they saw things in a new light. Now that children have learned to live with this challenge, how will their feelings change? I am curious about what entries from the next year on will bring.
Children surprisingly observe their surroundings. Their awareness on the environment around their communities can be seen through their paintings. Entries this year tell us their thought—they have to do something—has taken root in the world. The light of hope for the future children around the globe feel is not understood by replacing their expressions with words. The screening made us felt that we had to sincerely interpret the light and take the message, which was sent to us, adults.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the children who sent in entries, as well as their families and people around them who supported the children while the coronavirus threat was still raging. I would also like to thank the staff who helped organize the screening. I believe there might be many applicants who were not able to send in entries, and applicants who completed their paintings but were not able to send them. I attended the screening with the sadness and feelings of these people in my thoughts. This contest will continue next year and onward, so whether you were able to apply this year or not, please send in your entries, expressing all your feelings and thoughts in your art.
In my opinion, the main purpose of this competition is to provide young people with a stage for raising adults' awareness, a place where they can freely express their authentic feelings. Many entries this year showed an open form of resistance to the world that adults manage. My concern is that the media is increasingly reaching even the very young, threatening their innocence and clarity of perception. We adults must be very aware of the impact this has. I hope that through this competition Kao will continue to give young earthlings the space to express their concerns and visions with confidence and without reservation.
This was the first time I served as a judge. The entries were truly impressive, capturing the world and global issues, whether on the environment or not, from children's perspectives. Entries that cheerfully portrayed the painters' image of an ideal future were also moving. We adults must do everything we can to create a future that children wish for, a future in harmony with nature, able to live happily with their family and people around them. Some entries also expressed hope that if people across the world worked together, we could deliver a future that is kind both to the Earth and society.
It is humbling that despite the present world crisis, so many children have sent in their entries. And while it is important to engage in new activities to protect the global environment, the paintings are filled with little discoveries and messages which tell us that what is important is already around us and that there are things we can do in our immediate neighborhood. Perhaps this is because in some regions, children have been unable to go outside as they wish. What can we do for a better future? Maybe we should put our heads together with children without forgetting what we have all learned during the coronavirus crisis.
* Awards ceremony for 11th painting contest
The awards ceremony for the top prize winners, which was scheduled for December had to be cancelled due to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of all guests and visitors.