Competition — 2008

International Political Cartoon Competition Earthworks
Sponsored by New Internationalist, the Morning Star and The Political Cartoon Gallery (London, UK) and supported by the Amiel-Melburn and the Miliband-Lipman Trusts.

This year's Ken Sprague International Political Cartoon Competition has been an even bigger success than the last one. Over 300 cartoonists from 55 countries submitted cartoons on the theme of global warming and our threatened environment. The overall quality of the cartoons was also of an extremely high standard. The jury of leading cartoonists, Martin Rowson and Morten Morland, New Internationalist Editor, Alan Hughes, Morning Star Features Editor, Richard Bagley, Green Party Principal Male Speaker, Dr. Derek Wall, graphic designer, Michal Boncza and Springboard director, Liz Willis were quite taken aback by the enormous response this year, and the entries have been simply outstanding.

Some cartoons were bitingly satirical, others outrageously funny or bitter and even fatalistic, but none were neutral or indifferent. The jury had a near-impossible task choosing the three winners but made their choice, ultimately, on the basis of the clarity and shock-value of the message. The written language becomes redundant when imagery can transcend the need for words. The judges felt the winning cartoons sent a message that could be understood internationally, across cultural, religious or political barriers and boundaries.

First prize was awarded to Mikhail Zlatkovsky from Russia for his cartoon 'Coat Star', 2nd prize went to Constantin Ciosu from Romania for 'Butterflies' and 3rd prize went to Tawan Chuntraskawvong from Thailand for 'The Hand'.

Powerful, uncompromising and uncomfortable, the cartoons highlight our negligent attitude towards the planet, as well as bringing home what global warming will really mean; not a Riviera on the south coast and palm trees in the garden, but desertification, widespread hunger and ultimately, our own annihilation. But the images also convey powerful ideas in a humorous manner, allowing us a wry smile as we interpret each artist's take on the topic of global warming. And if it's true, as George Orwell once stated, that every joke is a tiny revolution, these cartoons should set the wheel turning.

The judges felt Mikhail Zlatkovsky's cartoon captured the shabbiness and sleazy way our planet is being devastated; the individual 'indecently exposing' himself is symbolic of humanity's indecency in ruining our world. The figure is clothed only in a wind-torn coat with the tears representing a map of the world. The judges felt the artist had shown considerable command of his medium by creating an immediately recognisable map of the world out of tears in the coat. The figure is contrastingly confronted by a fairy-tale, pristine and undespoiled universe.

The judges felt Constantin Ciosu's cartoon forcefully carried the message of how our environment is menaced. It is also drawn meticulously on a uniform grey background that reinforces the idea. The only colour is the butterflies and the single flower in the man's hand. Even the, normally harmless, butterflies take on a sense of menace as the swarm hunts down the only flower it can find, fluttering past rows of chimneys belching out black smoke.

Tawan Chuntraskawvong's image also impressed the jury by the simplicity of its central message and its strong imagery. It gives us a brutal warning: by harming our environment we are self-harming and will eventually destroy ourselves if we continue in this vein. The fine detail in the drawing of the hand, reminiscent of an old and valuable engraving also impressed the judges.


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