Cayman student heading to Japan for art contest final

Tamia McLean, front, fourth from left, celebrates with her classmates at Triple C school after hearing she is a finalist in a worldwide art competition. - Photo: Katie O'Neill

Triple C student Tamia McLean, 14, will fly to Japan in August after making it to the final nine in her age group in a worldwide art competition that attracted nearly 1 million entries.

She found out she had qualified for the finals of the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest at school on Friday when Vice Principal Robert Lankford announced it.

After hearing the news, she said, “I am really happy, I can’t explain it, I started crying – that’s how happy I am.”

She added, “I am surprised too, that’s the next thing. My friends called it trash.”

Her art teacher John Broad was convinced early on that her work was far from trash, and showed great potential. “She had amazing subtle colours in her painting, very beautiful, very harmonious colours. They all went together well. The image was kind of understated beautifully,” he said.

The picture, titled ‘My Evergreen Dream Car’ features a pink convertible in a dreamscape, and Tamia said it was her first “serious” painting.

All the entries were required to include a description of the artwork. Tamia’s reads, “My Toyota Dream Car can take you anywhere in the universe … planets, dimensions – you name it! Also my car can take you to dreamland where you see the ones you love, pink skies, and flying whales. The adventure is endless!”

She is among the nine finalists in the 12-15 age category. There were a total of 953,064 entries in the competition, in which 86 countries took part.

As a finalist, Tamia has won an all-expenses paid trip to Japan to compete for additional prizes. If she is a winner there, her artwork will appear in the Toyota 2020 calendar that will be printed and distributed worldwide.

Artist David Bridgeman, left, peruses Tamia McLean’s winning artwork. – Photo: Katie O’Neill

In the local round of the competition, four judges – David Bridgeman, Jessica Ebanks, Patti J. Ebanks and Adrian Porter, assessed the entries. The top three entries were chosen from three age groups and those were shipped to Japan for final judging.

The competition was introduced locally for the first time this year by Vampt Motors. The company’s marketing manager, Katie O’Neill, approached teachers at a National Gallery event in December last year to invite them to get students involved.

“This was the first time Vampt Motors participated in this Toyota Dream Car Art Contest and the artwork that was submitted showed how very talented our young artists are in Cayman,” O’Neill said.

Copies of the work of the nine local finalists are available for viewing at the Vampt Motors showroom, she said.

Tamia McLean, left, shows off her artwork, with Vampt Motors Marketing Manager Katie O’Neill, and Krisi Smith, who won in the local 8-to-11-year-old category.

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