They were ready to take the art world by storm: thirty giggling children in a muggy room, armed with Natraj pencils, stencil sets and felt pens in vivid reds, purples and greens. With freshly-scrubbed faces and neatly-pinned ID cards, the children of Ashray-Akruti let their pictures do the talking.
The children had been assembled as a part of a promotional event for the Cotton Council International's pan-India t-shirt design competition, ‘TeeZing', on the topic My Cotton World . Inviting multiple entries from across the country, CCI is also organising local painting competitions in various centres of the Smile Foundation to inspire young children to participate as well.
Hyderabad's edition of this competition saw local designer Asmita Marwa coming forward as a judge and to provide the children with words of explanation and encouragement. Rather depressingly, most of the shutterbug attention shifted in favour of photographing this young celebrity rather than the fidgety children sitting before them. The kids put down their canvasses and listened solemnly as Asmita gave them advice on how to proceed. “Paint from the heart,” she said. “Use bright colours. Paint with happiness.”
These trite words aside, the little group seemed to soak in the sentiment of what she said. A blue-pinafored girl with tightly plaited hair bound in black ribbons covered an entire sheet of paper with patterns of neat green trees, with ‘Go Green' written in the centre. Another bright young spark stencilled spirals and stars in eye-popping green and blue next to the words ‘Cotton is a Superstar'. A third earnestly coloured in a massive lotus that filled the sheet, with the words ‘Feel Me Cotton' boxed around it.
Their teachers were in constant attendance, lending a helping hand here, praising there, and sharing secret smiles with their children. Results were announced 45 minutes later, with K. Prem Kumar coming in first, Koushik coming in second, and P. Srinivas placing third.
One wonders whether these children will get to participate in the actual nationwide competition, but they seemed to enjoy themselves nevertheless. The ‘TeeZing' competition is open till July 22. The top three national winners get cash prizes, and the best designs will be retailed by Flying Machine. Entries can be submitted online at www.allaboutcotton.com, emailed to email@example.com, or submitted at select Café Coffee Day stories.