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I thank the artists who have participated in this competition/project. 2011 Judge John Bevins

There was not a work without merit among the 80 entries, no lack of art expressing itself as great art does – from the heart not the pocket. Many entries moved me and left me with no doubt that damage will be done to Big Tobacco through the effect this art has on those it touches.

Especially so, if the submissions can be judged closely by others in their homes and their schools around the world – perhaps too by politicians if they care enough. I hope my own judgement is critiqued and my reasons for my choices discussed and debated.

Thank you to all the artists who have entered work, and who have worked so hard and inspiringly doing that. It is humbling for this trembling judge. Trembling? Well, some will be disappointed that their excellent and most worthy pictures, sculptures, prose or poetry have not won. Some might say – who is this guy anyway? He's no artist himself. He's not an art critic. What would he know?

Fair enough. I am just an old adman who's hoping his long experience in the trenches of anti-smoking campaigns has qualified me to give in to the arm-twisting and be this year's judge.

Certainly I've enjoyed the honour.
I did no research into the entrants themselves, save for reading their rationales. They were all just names to me, not Names, and therefore quite anonymous. The work was all that mattered.

My judge’s rationale is simple.

It's there in the name of the competition itself. I found myself searching for a 'toppling' effect, in the hope that I might find enough toppling to cause a tipping point… or to be an inspiration for such an outcome next year, or in a year soon to come. It's a big ask, to topple Big Tobacco.

But that is the bold vision of Art Toppling Tobacco's generous founder and tireless champion… Fay Thomson.

‘Toppling’ is the brand's middle name. And this competition is committed to considering any 'toppling' as art – providing the 'toppling' is legal and damages only Big Tobacco.

Picture, performance, protest, prose, poetry, paraody – you name it – if it effectively 'topples' tobacco it has a good chance of taking top prize.

If art can change the world, what must it do in order to inflict serious damage on Big Tobacco?

That is the question this competition asks of every interested artist on the planet. It’s a call to the creative, to the brilliant, to the irreverent, to iconoclasts all over the world to get the bastards shaking in their brogues.

You can do it, in this age where the Internet gives instant voice to wild imagination.

In judging the entries, I must say I found myself asking where is David? Where's his slingshot? Where's his stone?

Where is he, she, who'll bring Goliath to his knees?

With those questions still echoing, this year’s winners…

3rd PLACE - Alexandru Podea, Hunedoara, Romania

Alexandru sculptor, 'Bio-Breathing', is soon to stand in a courtyard of a hospital in a country where 50 per cent of male doctors and over a third of female doctors smoke.

This country toppled communism 21 years ago, and now that it has come of age let's hope Romanian sculptor Alexandru Podea has seeded a revolution that will topple tobacco. His nation is occupied by its foreign forces.

2nd PLACE - Karen Bloomfield of Bensville, NSW

Congratulations to Karen for her poignant drawing 'Lost in a Smokey Haze'. The eyes say it. Let's hope kids can't help but to look into them and see where smoking would take them were they to choose it. Let’s hope this work gets shown in every Primary School classroom.

Which leaves

1st PLACE - Aaron James McGarry of Sydney, NSW

Aaron video Aaron video (1796 KB)

  I was moved by the concept of this ugliest of entries.

It's not just the work submitted as the art that's the art.

It's the work that went into the art that's the art. Best explained verbatim by Aaron James McGarry himself, of his video 'Our Earth Butt?:

'I made this work collecting my own ciggy butts, then others discarded butts in public places. I then set out and built a sculpture of the world made of butts. It stinks and is an awful sight but thats the point and so powerful its made me now stop smoking. I think set it alight! and saw the world smoking.'

The world is indeed smoking. 'It stinks’, indeed, ‘and is an awful sight' as Big Tobacco cynically exploits emerging democracies and Third World countries.

On the day I write this, our Earth’s population has reached a historical new total.

You are now not one in a million, you are one in seven billion.

Each of us is one in seven billion.

And yet Big Tobacco sees us just as a market.

The art of toppling Big Tobacco demands ideas more powerful than Big Tobacco itself.

This competition provides that big challenge and a big prize again in 2012.

Over to you, artists of the world!

2011 Submissions Gallery







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