Grayson Perry, Jean Jullien and Aida Muluneh select WaterAid Art of Change finalists
A public vote will decide the winner among artists from around the world, who have all depicted the preciousness of water and the importance of handwashing for a campaign to be presented to governments in October.
- Jenny Brewer
- 11 August 2020
WaterAid has announced the 12-strong shortlist for its Art of Change competition, selected by an all-star panel comprising Grayson Perry, Jean Jullien, Aida Muluneh and Russell Tovey. The shortlisted artists hail from across the globe, spanning Jakarta, Panama City, Brussels, Varese, Lille, Lusaka, Montreal and London, all depicting the preciousness of water and the importance of handwashing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The winner will be chosen by a public vote, open now until 10 October.
The shortlist comprises Irina Bogdan (who has two artworks in the running), Cecilia Castelli, Mulenga J Mulenga, Carlos Chaverra Perez, Jess Mountfield, Katerina Croydon Veleslavov, Léonie Macquet, Nikki Miles, Cindy Salim, Katie Cegoni and Holly Thomas.
The competition invited artists to create poster artworks for the charity’s campaign, urging world leaders to double their investment in providing clean water and hygiene for all. Three billion people worldwide have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and clean water at home, and one in four health centres lack these facilities on site. The winning poster will be announced on Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2020.
One of the shortlisted artists Mulenga J Mulenga, from Lusaka in Zambia, depicted A Puzzle That Can Be Solved. Of explaining her piece, she says: “Handwashing is the first line of defence against Covid-19, yet 785 million people have no access to clean water worldwide. Women and children are the most vulnerable because, in most households, they travel long distances to access clean water. As a result this has caused a lot of health problems and social economical challenges. A tap, a borehole, can save a life especially the most vulnerable.”
London-based illustrator Jess Mountfield says of her artwork Turn on the Tap: “I drew this while sitting with my grandfather who was dying of suspected coronavirus. His whole life was about positivity and kindness... Things don't have to be as they are – we really can enact change. And it is our duty to do so.”
One of Irina Bogdan’s artworks shows water as a valuable piece of jewellery, “yet it shouldn’t be a luxury. For any human being,” the artist comments. Katerina Croydon Veleslavov’s more graphical piece uses repeated imagery to reinforce the message of consistent handwashing being vital to the fight against Covid-19. While Nikki Miles’ piece shows a hand signalling ‘stop’ asking viewers “to stop and think about their privilege,” and then take action.
Judge Aida Muluneh says in a statement: “Creativity and art are powerful forces for change in the world. As a photographer working in Ethiopia, my vision has been to create art that courageously challenges cliches and portrays the strength, beauty and heritage of Africa and its women. Clean water and good hygiene are vital in preventing the spread of deadly diseases like coronavirus, yet millions of people are living without these basics. Together, we can call on governments to take urgent action to address this injustice.”
Vote for your favourite artwork here.
GalleryWaterAid Art of Change shortlist
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.