UNICEF: Illuminate public sculptures for International Children’s Day

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Public works by George Zongolopoulos in emblematic parts of the country were illuminated in the blue shade of UNICEF, celebrating on November 20 the International Children’s Day.

The action was carried out at the request of UNICEF Greece, which was accepted by the Georgios Zongolopoulos Foundation – as the sole copyright holder of its work – and to which they responded:

The Municipality of Athens with the hydro-kinetic sculpture Pentakyklo in conversation with the new fountain in Omonia Square, the Municipality of Thessaloniki with the Umbrellas at Nea Paralia on the coastal front of Thessaloniki and the Municipality of Filothei – Psychiko with the Umbrellas at its main entrance. Also taking part in the event was the Umbrella sculpture located at the historic Al Alamein Hotel in Egypt, which belongs to the construction group of EMAAR Misr in the United Arab Emirates.

Regarding the action, UNICEF diplomatic representative in Greece Luciano Calestini stated:

“World Children’s Day honors the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. We are particularly honored to be illuminated by the important and emblematic sculptures of George Zongolopoulos as we join forces to defend the rights of children in Greece and the world. It is a symbolic act that sends a strong message that no child should be left behind. “

For his part, the mayor of Athens, Costas Bakogiannis, stressed

“In a time of multiple crises, children’s lives are being turned upside down. The pandemic affected learning, development and child protection, highlighting inequalities in access to services and care

In this unprecedented situation, the children “paid for the marble”, losing the physical contact with their school and friendly environment, with the long-term effects being unknown, swimming in uncharted waters.

We are proud of the fact that Athens is under the seal of UNICEF Candidate City for Child Friendly: It focuses on the needs of children and young people and adapts services, benefits, actions in this direction.

We are firmly committed to improving the city’s infrastructure for children: schools, parks, outdoor and indoor playgrounds, playgrounds. A renovated and safe playground, a modern open field can house dreams, be a way out, even a temporary shelter, away from a toxic environment. In my mind there is always the verse: ” defend the child, because if the child escapes , there’s hope”.”

In a statement, the mayor of Thessaloniki, Konstantinos Zervas, pointed out:

“George Zongolopoulos himself had characteristically stated: ‘The umbrella as a protective object is familiar to the whole world. We all find protection and warmth under its light canopy … ‘. ..The ‘Umbrellas’ on the new beach of Thessaloniki, which bear the stamp of this leading sculptor, are illuminated, to send the universal message that we have a duty to protect the rights of all children. Especially in the difficult conditions that the pandemic has created, this message must and deserves to be heard very loudly. So let us all work for ‘a better future for every child’, just as this year’s theme that accompanies World Children’s Day urges us. “

The Mayor of Filothei – Psychiko, Dimitris Galanis stressed: “We support the UNICEF mission to protect the rights of all children and send a message to raise public awareness of the challenges facing children against new threats such as climate change, pandemics, e “Abuse and cyberbullying while we are committed to creating even more child-friendly cities. Children are the future, we trust them and we are optimistic that their own gaze will bring hope to the emerging new world.”

In a statement from Egypt, EMAAR Misr and the Al Alamein Hotel emphasize that “they stand in solidarity with the people around the world who are celebrating World Children’s Day. In honor of the occasion, we participate with the Georgios Zongolopoulos Foundation and our friends in Greece, lighting our Umbrellas in UNICEF blue, raising awareness of the world for such an important purpose “.

Finally, the president of the Georgios Zongolopoulos Foundation, Nikos Theodoridis, pointed out:

“George Zongolopoulos had a particular weakness in children and believed that art should go to schools and public space so that all children can acquire aesthetic depots.

When he had exhibited his work “Plates” in the National Garden, the people in charge of the exhibition warned him that his work is being destroyed by children who pull the plates and have fun with their sounds and their restoration. He replied that “it is wonderful that the children are playing with the work and let it be destroyed, it can be fixed anyway”. At that time the children were discovering a new toy and George Zongolopoulos an unprecedented concept for the 70’s, ie the participation of the viewer in the operation of an art installation which was later given the term interaction and in Greek translated as “interaction”.

Giorgos Zongolopoulos’ belief that Art should be addressed to children is also reflected when in 1959 he said: “We believe in the constant transformation not only of Art but also of the aesthetics of the public, and we hope that one day the need will become conceivable. a courageous effort by the spiritual people of our country so that the message of abstract art reaches not only the decorations of public spaces, galleries and monuments, but even the elementary school desk which is one of the tender points of our culture “.

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