From 13 to 30 November, 69 artworks from 69 schools in locations around the world, including Hanoi, Vietnam, will be displayed at the ‘Rivers of the World’ Exhibition 2017 on Hanoi Book Street. The exhibition also took place along the Thames River in September 2017 and received great attention from public.
This is the second year that Vietnamese schools have been invited to participate in the ‘Rivers of the World’ project. The project has been implemented for 11 years with the participation of schools from 28 countries around the world. ‘Rivers of the World’ encourages young people to reflect about the different aspects of rivers and inspires them to recognize the potential of art in their lives. It champions the creativity of children and young people and provides a framework in which international partnerships may flourish between artists and schools.
‘Rivers of the World’ connects 12 to 14 year old students all over the world with local rivers and then partners them with UK schools. Inspired by their research into rivers and guided by professional artists, the students create great artworks for public display.
In 2017, 69 artworks have been produced by 69 schools in Addis Ababa, Debre Zeit and Bahir Dar in Ethiopia; Hanoi in Vietnam; Kafue in Zambia; Logos in Nigeria; Freetown in Sierra Leone; Kathmadu and Pokhara in Nepal; and from London, Reading, Hull, Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea in the UK.
In Vietnam, with instruction from artist Nguyen Hoang Giang and the power of their imaginations, students from six Hanoi secondary schools created pieces reflecting current environmental concerns, drawing on historical events such as The Great Stink of 1858 when the Thames River was severely polluted by sewage. In another artwork, students produced stencil prints illustrating the protection of London from a flood by the Thames barrier.
With only simple materials, students assembled paper teapots and decorated them with iconic London images characteristic of the UK’s tea culture. After carrying out research into the trading coins and tokens used during the 17th and 18th Century in London, students were inspired to make their own versions, or simply reproduce symbolic ones using tin foil.
The display of the artwork of the ‘Rivers of the World’ project along the River Thames each September has become one of the most important events in the Thames Festival. These wonderful works are also exhibited in all participating cities and countries. In Vietnam, the British Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Training has implemented the project for two years, encouraging students to learn about local rivers in the first year and their partner’s river in the second. The project encourages artists to employ new techniques to challenge and inspire students. “This is the second year that our students participated in the project. Throughout the process, our students have learnt a great deal about team work, research and art. But most importantly, the project raised their awareness about protecting our environment.” – Nguyen Thi Hien, teacher, Gia Thuy, secondary school, Vietnam
Every artwork has its own story. Each shows the different points of view of the students, raises awareness, promotes knowledge and encourages them to explore and reflect on local and global issues. The project provides a wealth of exciting cross-curricular activities, helping students to gain an international outlook and develop the skills they need for life and work in an increasingly inter-connected global society.