as the year 2008 was declared the year of potato, the UNESCO proposed to dedicate the 36th edition of the International Children’s Exhibition of Fine Arts Lidice to a theme relating to the word POTATO. The second recommended theme of the exhibition was WORLD LANGUAGES.
The unusual themes of this year’s edition aroused our curiosity about how inspiring the themes would be for children and how they would capture them artistically. We were surprised at and pleased with how many interesting projects, techniques and works arrived from children from all over the world. They hadn’t been caught unawares by the themes by any means so we were able to compare often remarkable views of the popular foodstuff as well as the ways of communication.
Within the theme POTATOES, children could draw inspiration from the many following detailed themes –“Potato as a Plant and a Flower”, “The Tools Used for Potato Growing and Harvesting”, “Potato Dishes”, “Potato Fields”, “Potato Recipes”, “Things Made from Potatoes”, “Cultivars, Shapes and Colours of Potatoes”, “Works Related to Growing and Harvesting of Potatoes”.
Most of the works showed that their creators were interested also in the origin of potatoes, as well as the ways potatoes are grown or processed. Some pictures showed Peruvian Indians growing potatoes as early as 6,000 years ago. There were so many ships on the pictures carrying potatoes from Ecuador to Europe (mid-16th century) that they would have been able to form a fleet. Among pictures of potato fields tilled by men and horses, pictures of sprouting or blooming potato plants, pictures of potatoes in various stages of processing – raw, unpeeled, peeled, sliced, grated, potatoes being boiled or fried, chips, potato fritters, potato pancakes – there were also pictures of families sitting at table with their plates full of potatoes or of Mother preparing food. Cookbooks with drawings or photographs containing recipes and preparation procedures of favourite potato meals weren’t unique.
Three-dimensional works always liven up the exhibition. Ships with Christopher Columbus aboard “came” to Lidice with a freight of the precious foodstuff, larger than life potato beetles swarmed up, ceramic, wire or paper baskets and sacks arrived full of potatoes and chips made out of various materials.
The theme WORLD LANGUAGES and COMMUNICATION offered the following detailed themes: How Nations and Ethnic Groups Make Themselves Understood”, “The More Languages You Know the More You Are a Human Being”, “Interpersonal Communication”, “Can Animals Distinguish Various World Languages?”, “The Same Language May Sound Different in Different Countries It Is Spoken”, “Various Nations and Ethnic Groups in My Country Speak Different Languages”, “My Favourite Foreign Language and Why I Like It“. Most often, children tried to picture a group of people communicating with each other or attempted to show animal communication. Thus, dogs, cats, horses and even exotic animals in foreign countries or zoos appeared in pictures. Since animals are very important mediators in children’s communication with the world, many works depicted children communicating with their pets.
Like every year, the International Fine Arts Competition culminates in an exhibition of winning works. Its opening ceremony took place on the 28th May in the Lidice Gallery in Lidice attended by many ambassadors and political and cultural figures of the Czech Republic. The programme of the opening day enjoyed the attention of dozens of child visitors from the Czech Republic and from abroad. As it has become a tradition, a foreign winner was invited to the opening day programme – this year it was Sara Cuklin, a 11-year.old girl from the Fotoklub Varazdin in Croatia, who won a medal for her collection of photographs.
The unique international exhibition displays children’s paintings, drawings, graphic works, photographs, ceramic works, and works of combined techniques. You can see fine art works of children from 48 countries including the Czech Republic in this year’s exhibition presented in the Lidice Gallery. We are pleased that most of Czech and foreign schools have become regular participants in our competition and exhibition, joined by additional schools each year. For instance, this year it was children from Democratic People´s Republic of Korea and Peru.
Like every year, it was very interesting to compare styles of submitted works and their degree of elaboration as well as inventiveness and creative contribution of a child or group of children. Comparing works, techniques, themes and ways of interpretation of the themes by children from all over the world is always very interesting experience. Traditionally, pictures by children from exotic countries such as Srí Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand or Singapore caught our eye, and as every year, children from Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania contributed with their distinct collections of paintings and graphics.
Out of the total 6 788 exhibits received, the Panel of Judges selected 1 011 exhibits for the purposes of the exhibition, out of which 492 works were from abroad. In total there were 129 medals awarded. 67 medals for exceptionally good works of fine art were sent abroad this year. Works of fine art by children from Croatia for their photo collections (12), India (4), Indonesia (4), Kazakhstan (4), Russia (3), Lithuania (3) and Latvia (2) won most of them.
Czech schools were awarded 519 prizes this year, out of which 62 were medals. Children from the Strakonice Primary Art School (8), the Most Primary Art School (7), the Český Krumlov Primary Art School (6), the Primary Art School Praha 1, Biskupská (6), the Plzeň Primary Art School (4), and the House of Children and Youth Ulita from Prague thanks to their collection of ceramics and graphics proved to be the most successful.The prize of the Panel of Judges was awarded to Český Krumlov Primary Art School for a long-lasting quality work with children and for the project “Lords of the Rose”.
Slovak schools got 17 medals this year. Children from the Private Primary Art School Martin (3), the Primary Art School Žilina – Gaštanová (3) and the Primary Art School Žilina – Martinská (3) proved to be the most successful.
Regrettably, also this year some of good works of fine art have been excluded from evaluation because of a proper description on them missing. A precondition of acceptance of a work for the exhibition is a carefully made description containing relevant data. Notwithstanding our warning to that effect in the invitation, this bad experience of us reoccurs every year.
Bringing hope, joy and youthfulness along, the International Children’s Exhibition of Fine Arts Lidice is an important and indispensable counterpoise of the tragic connotations of Lidice. We believe that the time spent visiting the exhibition will be pleasant, inspiring and peaceful for young and old visitors alike as it was for us, whether they will visit it at Lidice or anywhere else in the world.
Mgr. Ivona Kasalická
Head of the Lidice Gallery and Curator of the International Children’s Exhibition of Fine Arts Lidice