Talented artists from across Europe put their art to the service of the environment in a competition held for World Environment Day
Srečko was a young stork that – like hundreds of others – spread its wings and set off to migrate from Slovenia to the warmer African climate a couple of winters ago. Sadly, his journey ended too early. The bird, whose name ironically means ‘lucky,’ got entangled in one of the five trillion plastic bags our world uses each year, and he passed away en route.
Having followed Srečko using a GPS device, Katarina Šeme, a comic strip artist from Slovenia, felt deeply moved by his story. She put her skills to use – creating a comic strip to raise awareness of the devastating effects of plastic pollution on migratory birds. Almost all marine and freshwater birds risk entanglement in plastic waste, while nearly 40 percent of seabirds have ingested plastic. Katarina hopes her artwork will inspire people to think and act for nature.
“Throughout history, art has played an important role in challenging our views,” she says. “Art does not show you directly what to do, yet, it can portray things differently, and offer a transformative experience that makes us think, engage and act.” Šeme’s won first prize in the comic strip category of an art competition organized by the United Nations Environment Programme Europe Office.
Artwork from the competition is being showcased on UNEP’s social media accounts in Europe as a call to action. Whether depicting the treasures of the natural world or pressing environmental issues, the artists use their talents and creativity to inspire positive change #ForNature.
“This year’s World Environment Day theme is biodiversity- ‘offering us a great opportunity to showcase the bold artwork we received for the environmental design, comic strip and photography competition. We hope that the artwork in this social media series will capture people’s imagination and encourage them to rethink their relationship with nature,” said Bruno Pozzi, UNEP’s Director of the Europe Office.
The competition ran from October to November 2019. Artists entered from across Europe to raise awareness on environmental issues and embrace sustainability. Winners were selected based on visual impact, creativity, originality, the degree to which the art depicted Europe’s natural treasures, the challenges faced by our environment, possible solutions, or the need to embrace sustainability. The jury consisted of Geneva-based artist Emilie Crittin; Nancy Winters, a US-based designer; and Mr Pozzi.
A wider selection of the artwork is being showcased on @UNEP_Europe’s Twitter and @UNEnvironmentEurope Facebook accounts, and it is not to be missed!
Kari Prestgaard created her winning design ‘Boarfish, 'Capros Aper'’ to raise awareness on plastic pollution. Since 2010, Kari has traded in her art materials for plastic waste collected from beaches all over Europe. Using only plastics, she creates art with young people in hands-on workshops across Norway. She aims to inspire future generations to care for the environment.
“We find that positive interactions with the plastic waste materials is what really moves hearts and minds. When you see the transformation from trash to treasure happen right before your eyes, it makes a lasting impression. We hope our work sparks a conversation about plastic pollution and how we treat our planet. Trash does not exist, only resources out of place," said Kari.
Slovakian photographer Lenka Adamčáková, was moved to document the impact of plastic pollution on plants. Her artwork was inspired by Anna Atkins, a botanist who established photography as a valid medium for scientific documentation. Lenka was inspired by Atkins’ use of cyanotypes and repurposed them to capture the winning photograph ‘New species - Cyanotype impressions’. The photograph of a plant and a plastic carrier bag created the blueprint for a visually mutated ‘New species’ of plant.
“I think that art can inspire people for environmental action, but it needs to go hand-in-hand with education and science to achieve results. For me, art is about bringing our senses to life in order to identify our mistakes and learn from them,” said Adamčáková.