Pupil’s plea for a greener world impresses judges in Imperial art competition

Pupil’s plea for a greener world impresses judges in Imperial art competition

Year 9’s Kelvin Chen will see his work displayed on billboards in London ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) starting next month after achieving success in a national art competition.

His colourful depiction of young people taking action to create a greener planet – entitled Friends of the Earth – took third place in the Climate Art Prize contest organised by Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute.

As well as the billboard display and £250 in cash, Kelvin’s prize will include seeing his piece alongside a mural in Nine Elms, close to the newly revamped Battersea Power station, that will also include the institute’s 9 things you can do about climate change.

Head of Art Craig Wheatley said: “My congratulations go to Kelvin, who followed the suggestion of my colleague, Jeanne Nicodemus, to enter and was then one of only nine winners and runners-up out of more than 1,000 entries.”

For the biennial competition, the institute, which is a research centre for climate change and the environment, challenged entrants aged 11-25 to create bold designs for outdoor public murals focused on the solutions needed to tackle the climate crisis.

For inspiration, they could look to the institute’s Climate Action Hub’s suggestions for positive actions everyone can take to reduce their impact on the planet, including reducing energy use and bills, green travel, protecting nature and eating less meat and dairy. Young people were asked to interpret these themes and focus on at least one of them when depicting their visions of a greener, cleaner, cooler future world.

The winning entries in each category will become public murals across the UK – in Glasgow, Coventry and West Norwood in London – painted by professional artists.

In his submission, Kelvin, whose third place was in the 11–14 age category, said that his piece of art has “a deep meaning behind it symbolising the actions of many people who have a passion for protecting and nurturing the planet.

“Some of the actions are shown in this drawing,” he wrote. “The left person is painting the world green, showing afforestation and protecting the world’s green spaces; the person in the middle, placing some wind turbines into the Earth, a form of renewable energy; and the person on the right is taking some of the rubbish thrown into the ocean out of the Earth’s waters.”

Speaking about his motivation to participate in the competition, Kelvin said: “I have a passion for tackling climate change and my drawing aims to inspire people to act. I think the environment should be a higher priority for the government, but there are also things we can all do to help the world.

“I’m also always up for a competition. I was excited when I received the email to say I had been chosen in third place.”

Kelvin is pictured receiving a prize at July’s QE Junior Awards ceremony from guest of honour Sunil Tailor (OE 1999–2006). As for the £250 prize money… “I’ve given it to my parents” he said.