Vietnamese boy wins global art contest

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Eight-year-old Nguyen Song Anh's "Big Bang" Clock has been awarded first prize at the British Council's Global Young Learners' Art Competition 2011

Eight year-old Nguyen Song Anh of Ho Chi Minh City has won first prize at the Global Young Learners' Art Competition launched by the British Council last July.

For the competition, which aims to celebrate the upcoming London Olympics, Anh, a student of the Luong The Vinh School in the city, drew a sketch of the Palace of Westminster best known for its "Big Ben" clock. However, the boy named it Big Bang Clock.

A press release from the council on Monday said: "Anh's young ears must have misheard his teachers as he mistakenly labeled it "˜Big Bang Clock', however, the misspelling of London's famous Big Ben captured the hearts of judges."

Instead of his error counting against him, judges including British Council director of teaching Anna Searle and Paralympics competitor Susannah Rodgers awarded him first prize in the category of 8 years old and under, and his work will be displayed around the world.

Robin Rickard, director of British Council Vietnam, said in the release, "It's hard to second guess the judges' thinking, but either they were charmed by the innocent spelling mistake or thought that there was a deeper hidden meaning.

"Next year will see the London 2012 Olympics and in his picture, Anh also shows us a winners' podium complete with medal winning athletes. So the "˜big bang' could refer to anything from the starting ceremony to the starters' pistols in each race. So if it was a mistake, it was a very good mistake!"

Anh admitted the misspelling but thought perhaps he'd become confused with the Swiss brand of watch of the same name.

He said he was "very pleased and happy" when he found out he was a winner, and thanked British Council teachers for encouraging him to enter, as well as his parents and his art teachers at the Luong The Vinh School.

He attributed his good fortune to increased confidence in academic activities since studying at British Council Vietnam.

Anh's drawing together with other 11 paintings by young children from around the world, including Thailand, Kuwait, Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Mexico, have been printed by British Council offices around the world for their new desk calendar.

The Big Bang Clock is on the front page of the calendar which is already sitting on thousands of desks in over 100 countries.

Alongside the honor of having his artwork viewed internationally, Anh also won a selection of London 2012 souvenirs, including a soft toy of Olympic mascot Wenlock, an Olympic gym bag and a cup showing both Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot.

He will also receive 10 copies of the calendar to give to family and friends.

Entries to the Global Young Learners' Art Competition 2011 fell into three age groups: under 8, 9-11 and 12-15.

The three winning pictures and nine runners-up from the art competition will be available to download from the British Council website, the press release said.

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