May 24, 2024

Changing the World with WaterAid – Art Activists Need Your Vote!

Can art really change the world? We believe it can! A few months ago, we asked you to be part of #artofchange, an art activism competition run by global charity WaterAid. 12 finalists have been selected by the esteemed panel of judges and now we need you! We’re asking you to vote for the piece of art that’s so arresting world leaders cannot ignore it and the needs of global citizens who don’t have access to clean water – a basic human right.

We’re going to show you 12 pieces of art and we’d like you to pick the one that catches your eye and makes you think. The artists have shared a few thoughts on what inspired them to create their artwork and we also asked hostels to choose the piece that gets their vote.

You have until October 10th, 2020, to vote and WaterAid will announce the finalist on October 15th 2020, on Global Handwashing Day.


1. ‘We are in this together’

wateraid art for change entry by Carlos Chaverra Perez - painting of hands together washing

Artist: Carlos Chaverra Perez (Panama City, Panama)

“When I found out about the challenge, I got to read about the current global situation and how critical it is, a shocking 3 billion people aren’t able to wash their hands with soap and clean water, which is the first line of defence against the spread of the Coronavirus. This is something that 785 million people don’t even get to do because they don’t have access to clean water. We have to raise awareness and spread the word until our leaders take matters in the issue and protect us. The feeling behind this artwork is togetherness across the world in an issue that affects us all.”

Hostelworld vote: Amigos Hostel Cozumel (Cozumel, Mexico)

“This beautiful painting by Panama artist Carlos Chaverra Perez to me is SO symbolic of the times we are in, multiple hands of different colors representing the tones of the world’s people, at a time when in my country of birth, the US, the Black and Brown Lives Matter movement is so strong. We need clean water to stay healthy and this should be available to all no matter the color of your skin. Also, my hostel name is Amigos meaning Friend. We have had friends from six of the seven continents in the 9 years the hostel’s been open, all representing the skin tones of our friends. Cozumel, where we’re based, is the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. We need clean water so future generations can enjoy it. The circle of life begins in water, let it not end because we do not have clean water for all of mankind, no matter the tone of your skin.” Amigos Hostel, Cozumel

Place your vote here


2. ‘Access to Clean Water is a Human Right’

wateraid art for change entry by Cecilia Castelli - painting of a woman holding a tap getting water

Artist: Cecilia Castelli (Varese – Italy)

“Having access to clean water should be a human right, especially now that hand washing is a defence against the spread of COVID-19. That’s why I represented an open padlock that is also a water tap. The woman is washing her hands and has unlocked the padlock herself, to give a sense of empowerment.”

Hostelworld vote: Che Hostels (Mexico)

“We voted for @beingcecilia because this image speaks for itself, anyone shouldn’t block us from having and drinking water??” Che Hostels

Place your vote here


3. ‘Together’

wateraid art for change entry by Cindy Salim -painting of women turning a tap with a water droplet falling

Artist: Cindy Salim (Jakarta, Indonesia)

“I am aware of the lack of access to clean water in around the world. I hope my artwork could bring impact to an individual’s life. And it’s inspired by ‘togetherness.’ I believe as we come together, we could change for the better future. In the artwork I wanted the people to stay at the same level, for people to know that we are all equal. No one has to do more work than others, no matter what our position in society.”

Hostelworld Vote: Hostel Hutteldorf (Vienna, Austria) 

“We chose this picture from Cindy Salim because there are still very many people who do not have access to clean water – 785 million people! This should be changed! In our country, Austria the water is clean, freely accessible and is also drinkable. Unfortunately, it is often forgotten that not everyone has this possibility. We are grateful to have such water in Austria and would be very happy if the same were true also in other countries. Everyone should have the human right to have access to clean water!” Hostel Hutteldorf

Place your vote here


4. ‘Clean Water Saves Lives’

wateraid art for change entry by Holly Thomas - painting of hands reaching into clean water saves lives text

Artist: Holly Thomas (London, UK)

I was especially inspired by the concept of togetherness and shared experience and decided to create an artwork centred around handwashing that includes and is accessible to everyone- all nationalities, genders, ages etc. As well as being an image showing people reaching in to wash their hands under the clean water, it’s also an image that shows unity- something that I feel is particularly important at the moment.”

Hostelworld Vote: Jack, Global Brand Marketing Manager at Hostelworld

“The message is front and centre so that everyone can see the artworks purpose, I also felt the different hands were a clever cue in pushing the importance of everyone across the world coming together to help deliver water hygiene and sanitation equality. It’s not something we can tackle individually or even by country, we need a global community to make a real difference long term.”

Place your vote here


5. ‘Water Shouldn’t be a Luxury’

wateraid art for change entry by Irina Bogdan - painting of a woman wearing a pearl necklace

Artist: Irina Bogdan (Brussels – Belgium)

“There are a lot of things we take for granted. Basic everyday things that we never stop to consider, because we can afford the luxury to overlook the essentials of any decent, safe living. Like WATER. Clean water, so easily available and affordable, with the turn of a tap. Yet a shocking number of people have no access to that. Water is indeed extremely precious, yet it shouldn’t be a luxury. For any human being.”

Hostelworld vote: Royal Prince Hostel (Lisbon)

“We chose Irina’s art for its beautiful illustration as well as it’s beautiful message.”  Royal Prince Hostel

Place your vote here


6. ‘Together’

wateraid art for change entry by Irina Bogdan - painting of mini people turning a tap with #bringwater

Artist: Irina Bogdan (Brussels, Belgium)

“There are a lot of things us as humans can achieve on our own, as individuals. Small things, huge things, incredible things. But some important actions can only be completed TOGETHER, and the strength coming from that grows exponentially with the number of people involved. Bringing water to those that need it is a collective effort and I would like to be part of it.”

Hostelworld Vote: Folk Hostel (Patagonia, Argentina)

“Our generation faces severe dangers and complex challenges. During the last months, reality pushed us to become deeply aware that the responsible use of and access to clean water makes the difference between life and death. Our hostel, and our local community, are located close to the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third-largest water reserve in the world. This privileged geographical position implies an unavoidable responsibility to permanently promote actions for the care and protection of natural resources. The conscious use of water, the correct treatment of waste and education to generate a healthy relationship with our environment are just the tip of the iceberg. Each one has the opportunity to improve our reality as part of the great human collective.” Folk Hostel

Place your vote here


7. ‘Turn on the tap’

wateraid art for change entry by Jess Mountfield - painting of people turning taps on

Artist: Jess Mountfield (London, UK) 

“I drew this while sitting with my grandfather who was dying of suspected coronavirus. His whole life was about positivity and kindness. We can help others and we can slow the spread of disease, the importance of which is brought into even sharper relief in times like these: where the picture is looking overwhelmingly negative and can leave us feeling helpless. I want people to look at this image and feel empowered, uplifted, and positive about the future and our potential. Things don’t have to be as they are – we really can enact change. And it is our duty to do so.”

Hostelworld vote: Voyage Recoleta Hostel (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

“Fighting for real change starts with us, we need to feel positive that we can live in a better world and it’s our duty to go for it. As backpackers, we have the fortune to see the world from different perspectives and we know what we talk about. We should raise our voices looking for equality around the planet. We choose this project from Jess Mountfield, who created ‘Turn on the tap’ for WaterAid’s Art of Change campaign, as it reflects happiness, hope, and optimism, even in these hard times.” Voyage Recoleta Hostel

Place your vote here


8. ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’

wateraid art for change entry by Katerina Croydon Veleslavov - painting of clean hands save lives

Artist: Katerina Croydon Veleslavov (London, UK)

“I wanted to create a simple and bold image to convey the importance of hygiene and handwashing. I made my digital artwork using fun colours and shapes to get across a very serious message. I hope that the repeating imagery of hands and taps reinforces the need to wash our hands multiple times a day whilst we continue to battle COVID-19 across the globe!”

Hostelworld Vote: Oasis Backpackers Mansion Lisboa (Lisbon, Portugal)

A beautifully bright reminder of the importance of sanitation right now! Especially while travelling, when it’s this easy to protect those around you, it’s definitely worth your time. Wash your hands, wear a mask, be safe!” Oasis Backpackers 

Place your vote here


9. ‘United As One’

wateraid art for change entry by Katie Cegoni - painting of a sun by the sea with a saying

Artist: Katie Cegoni (Montreal, Canada)

“Like an ocean, we are all connected as people to unite together to combat COVID. Our community now expands past our borders and stretches to all ends of the earth. My message is inviting people to stop and think collectively, that if we can band together and think of others, that we can change the world one day at a time.”

Hostelworld Vote: Cohort Hostel (St. Ives, Cornwall)

“We voted for Katie Cegoni’s piece because we believe that we live in a GLOBAL society and the issues we face transcend individual countries and culture. Just think what we could achieve if we all worked together rather than bickering among ourselves and polarising our communities? An environmental crisis needs a GLOBAL solution, not a local one. On a more personal note, some of you staying with us may remember that two years ago a local water pipe was damaged during construction work and the whole of St Ives was without running water for 8 hours. It was pretty hellish. 60 people in the building unable to drink tap water, flush a toilet or have a shower – and that was just in the hostel. Over a third of the world’s population live like that every day. We are so lucky but we shouldn’t be the lucky ones, this should be standard for every human being on this planet.” Cohort Hostel

Place your vote here


10. ‘Water deity’

wateraid art for change entry by Léonie Macquet - painting of a blue woman crying in the rain

Artist: Léonie Macquet (Lille, France)

“My artwork represents a water deity. She feels very sad about inequalities and the lack of water in health centres. Access to water is of fundamental importance for the well-being of every inhabitant of planet earth. I would like people to feel this sadness and choose to act.”

Hostelworld Vote: Johanna (London), Hostelworld’s Global Content Manager

“I chose Leonie’s piece because I think she portrays the sadness of individuals and the planet all in one image. The rain falls from the sky, the tears fall from the water deity and the oceans flow below. Water is so essential for the survival of our people and our planet, and yet there are so many that don’t have access to it. This art evoked emotion in me and reinforced the understanding that we will cease to exist without clean water.”

Place your vote here


11.  ‘A Puzzle That Can’t Be Solved’

wateraid art for change entry by Mulenga J Mulenga - painting of a boy standing under taps

Artist: Mulenga J Mulenga (Lusaka, Zambia)

“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-economic challenges. A tap, a borehole can save a life especially the most vulnerable.”

Mulenga’s travels and personal experience inspired her artwork: I travelled to Cape Town, South Africa in 2018 when the region was experiencing its worst drought and water crisis. It made me realise how important water is and if authorities can equally distribute water more lives can be saved. My home country, especially in the rural areas, where access to clean water remains a huge challenge and the UK where water is readily available for its citizens. Comparing the 2 experiences left me with questions of how an important commodity “water” is a privilege to others.

Hostelworld vote: Waya Guesthouse (Japan)

The hostel staff, Rio and Eve voted for this piece by Mulenga. “The composition was the first thing to grab our attention, and then upon reading the caption we really felt this was the one for us. Although we live in Japan, where clean water is easily available, this is still a subject we care about. We all have our reusable bottles that we take with us everywhere, and Waya is a MyMizu spot, allowing anyone to come and fill up their bottle for free with clean drinking water. It’s not much, but we want to help out where we can.” Waya Guesthouse (Japan) 

Place your vote here


12. ‘Human right, not a privilege’

wateraid art for change entry by Nikki Miles - painting of a hand with access to clean water is a human right not a privilege writing

Artist: Nikki Miles (London, UK)

“I want the illustration to make people stop and think about their privilege. How would they feel if they didn’t have clean water? Can they imagine what it’s like for other people who don’t have clean water? After they have thought and reflected, hopefully it will inspire them to take action.”

Hostelworld Vote: Hostel Swanky Mint (Zagreb, Croatia)

“We chose this illustration by Nikki Miles, which reminds people to stop and think about their privilege. To think about everything the planet has given us and how we use it without thinking about the damage, about how people around the world don’t have the same or even that one day we could all lose it as well. We believe you should not only cherish the planet, and treat it like you should treat someone giving you the means to live normally, but also that we should work together to help anyone else who doesn’t have the same conditions. Swanky has always been very eco-friendly and conscious about the use of water, power, and recycling which is very evident around the hostel with all of the signs we use to remind people to think about the planet.” Hostel Swanky Mint

Place your vote here


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