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Drawing on her Toyota dreams

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer

Friday, June 30, 2017

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Athalia Clarke will be Jamaica's representative at the 11th annual Toyota Dream Car Art Contest in Tokyo, Japan, on August 23.

The 11-year-old Queen's Prep School student won the local leg of the competition, hosted by Toyota Jamaica Limited. Her piece is entitled The Leaf Car and was in the 8-11-years category. She'll be one of 30 global finalists vying for top honours.

“I was very excited. I saw the posters at school and knew what the prize was. Now I'm looking forward to the food, meeting new people, and experiencing Japanese culture,” Clarke told Jamaica Observer's Auto magazine.

She shared her inspiration for her work.

“I would like my car to be driven all over the world, and if there is no space in the parking lot, somehow this car is light enough to fit in a tree and easily come down.”

Clarke will be joined by her mother, Terrean Robinson-Clarke and Tracy-Ann Fletcher, assistant marketing manager — Toyota Jamaica Limited, on the week-long trip that will see her visit many of the country's significant sites and witness Toyota's craftsmanship first hand before the awards ceremony.

“Athalia has a very good chance of winning. She's made it this far as one of 30 worldwide finalists,” said Tom Connor, managing director — Toyota Jamaica Limited.

Connor, and two of the five judges — Howard Foster, sales and marketing manager at Toyota Jamaica and artist Sean Henry — were present at the prize handover held on Wednesday at their Old Hope Road showroom.

The contest, which has seen a total to date of three million children across 90 countries, ran for the first two months of the year gaining 83 entries from the three age categories — seven years old and under, 8-11 years old, and 12-15 years old. This was the second year for Toyota Jamaica Limited to participate. The top-three local winners in each category were forwarded for global assessment at which point Clarke got the nod.

“She's very artistic, so I initially didn't think much of it. However, when Toyota told me, I wanted to surprise her. We were both screaming for joy when I shared the news,” her mother beamed with pride.

Athalia's father, Jeffry wasn't as surprised.

“I was 90 per cent sure on the local part of things,” he said.

Hand-drawn and coloured with markers, Clarke's piece wowed local judges with its design, use of colour, both which made it a quality work of art. However, Connor's hypothesises that, like himself, Toyota corporate execs were impressed by her unique concept, more significantly its appeal lays within Toyota's own environmental goals.

“I thought outside of the box. If I drew what everyone else was drawing, what would have been my chance of winning,” Clarke explained.

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