Clint’s legacy for Kerala

Clint. Photo: Department of Tourism

Clint. Photo: Department of Tourism

A drawing of a cheerful, pink caparisoned elephant imagined by a four-year-old girl from Bulgaria is one of the short-listed entries for the Department of Tourism’s (Kerala) Clint Memorial International Children’s Painting Competition for children. Viara Pencheva’s other entry is a Kathakali face painted in bright shades found only in the palette of this four-year-old who has never seen Kathakali.

Viara’s paintings were among the 4,500 plus entries the department received since it announced the competition in January. The results of the competition will be announced later, in October. The 1,000-odd short-listed entries can be viewed on the Kerala tourism website. (https://www.keralatourism.


This campaign is probably the first of its kind where a painting competition is being held in order to promote a tourism destination. The competition was open to children between four and 15.

It’s been 31 years and some months since child prodigy Edmund Thomas Clint died. He left behind an enormous body of work, almost 25,000 paintings, that captured Kerala in its natural best. In his innocent, childish hand we saw Theyyam brought alive on paper with colours; as did the Kathakali performer, we even saw racing snake boats, cascading waterfalls and unforgettable golden sunsets.

He drew ‘touristy’ images of Kerala much before we became God’s Own Country, before brochures boasted a tourist destination Kerala.

Kerala Tourism saw potential in the works, as a means to promoting tourism and conducted the competition. The contestants were given only one brief – they draw/paint sights of Kerala. On registration the participants were sent two e-books to familiarise them with Kerala – one on Clint with 30 of his paintings and the other on Kerala with 100 photographs. The rights for the paintings were acquired by the Department. The website has a gallery of photos that show Clint’s works on the sights of Kerala along with videos of similar sights.

The campaign was promoted extensively online through YouTube videos where the Department of Tourism had uploaded couple of videos on Clint and his works.

The entries came from many countries including United States of America, Egypt, Austria, France, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. The drawings are fascinating, especially those by children from other countries.

Although the competition was announced in January, it is said to have picked up once Suman Billa took over as Tourism Secretary. Of the department’s interest in Clint’s works he says, “Kerala’s enchanting beauty expressed through a child’s, Clint’s, perception or eye is refreshing. Secondly, it is to inculcate a quality of art in young children, and thirdly, Kerala Tourism wants to promote Kochi as an art capital since it is the Biennale town and we want to create a certain set of art activities in the city and this competition is one way of doing it.”

It also keeps a memory alive. One can’t help wondering if it is a bit late. “I wouldn’t say that. Clint lives and has grown in the minds of a generation. That generation is now doing more things for him. It is better late than never. I am very happy that this is being done in Clint’s memory,” says M.T. Joseph, Clint’s father.

Through the competition and its related campaign, the Department of Tourism has introduced another generation to Clint.

“My kids (Viara and her brother Jasen) like to paint very much and take part in painting competitions. I search online for international painting competitions. I was very impressed by the paintings of the little boy Clint – he was really a unique painter, touched by God! So I decided to tell my children about him and about this competition. They were also very impressed and happy that they will be able to take part in the competition,” writes Dimka Pencheva in an email from Bulgaria.

A judging panel comprising artists and art critics will choose the best among the works. The results will be, tentatively, announced in October. Prizes are flight tickets (for two – a child and one parent/guardian) and six, five and four night tour packages in Kerala for first, second and third prize winners respectively.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 5:42:30 pm |