Athens, 19 March 2021

Another touching initiative, the Online Award Ceremony for the Winners of the Panhellenic Student Painting Competition, organized by the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” in the framework of the Anniversary Year «Thermopylae – Salamis 2020 », was held on Wednesday March 17, 2021.The Foundation wished to congratulate the students who excelled, as the planned awards event could not be organized with physical presence due to the measures against the pandemic.

The Panhellenic Student Painting Competition was organised in collaboration with the Children’s Gallery of Greece under the theme “The battle of Thermopylae and the naval battle of Salamis as a triumph of the will and as the cornerstone of Western civilization.” The competition was addressed to students from 1st to 6th grade of primary schools in Greece and abroad, with the approval of the Ministry of Education and awarded two paintings from each age category and grade.

The winners of the competition were the following students (alphabetically):

Dimopoulou Marianna, Giannopoulos Konstantinos, Georgiopoulou Despoina, Georgiou Christina – Itsopoulos Ioannis,  Kokkinidis Ioannis, Kotsifi Dimitra-Lydia, Lilitsi Marilia, Nikolakopoulos Nikolaos, Psychogios Vaggelis, Siganaki Maria, Stefanopoulos Aggelos, Tsigkos Vasilis

The young students, and at the same time big winners, were welcomed by Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis who opened the event with a speech, followed by addresses by the members of the paintings Evaluation Committee: Michalis Arfaras – painter, Professor and Director of the Department of Engraving, School of Fine Arts of Athens, Vana Xenou – sculptor, Dora Rogan – Art Critic, and Takis Mavrotas, Director of the Art Program of the “Vassilis and Marina Theocharakis Foundation”. Additionally, Shanna Ingram Papadimos – painter and Sotiris Sorogkas, Professor at the National Technical University of Athens conveyed their congratulations. On behalf of the students, the Head of the Children’s Gallery of Greece, Mrs. Aikaterini Leggou, addressed a greeting.

In her speech, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis thanked the Ministry of Education, the Minister of Education Mrs. Niki Kerameos, the members of the Evaluation Committee, the Children’s Gallery of Greece and Mrs. Aikaterini Leggou, the moderator, Ms Rania Tragomallou – journalist, and then addressed to the winners mentioning among other:

“I am very glad to have met you, my dear children, to see the beautiful faces hidden behind the wonderful creations in our competition and to personally communicate with you. Thanks to you, and to the hundreds of students who participated, the competition was a great success. It was held under difficult conditions but nothing prevented your artistic creation and inspiration from being expressed and reaching our hands with the help of your excellent teachers and your parents. Your works spoke to us with colors, exceptional designs and sensitivity, for our great anniversary, for the 2500 years since the Battle of Thermopylae and the Naval Battle of Salamis, as you imagined them, emphasizing the symbolisms and cultural elements that inspired your imagination and heart.… In fact, I do not forget the moving words of H.E. President of the Hellenic Republic, Ms. Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who was the first to take our Anniversary Book in her hands, and told me that, when she opened it, she was impressed and delighted, with your beautiful paintings!

My dear Students, our Foundation wanted to celebrate this anniversary by giving the impetus inside the classrooms of our country and of the Greek community abroad to become a subject of artistic and educational activity. At the same time, we wished the values ​​and messages of these two emblematic historical events that laid the foundations for the development of Western civilization to become property of the new generation. Your participation and works have proved that this initiative was successful. From the bottom of my heart I would like to express a big “thank you” for your participation and my warmest congratulations on your distinction! You make us really proud!”

In his greeting, Professor Michalis Arfaras mentioned among others:

“…Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mrs. Vardinoyannis, and I wish you all the best for the future! May you always give us all these very interesting developments in the field of culture, of humanity and may we also contribute as much as we can to this great effort.

The truth is that I also congratulate all those who contributed to the success of this very difficult event, under these circumstances. We all know how difficult it is now to be able to do something from such distances, with many difficulties. … As an artist, I must say that I am always happy with the beautiful drawings of the children I see, and I will have to say that these works which they created for a very difficult subject, such as Thermopylae and Salamis. They are two battles that, of course, cannot be  depicted easily. When I think of them as a painter, how could I depict something like this that happened so many years ago, so many centuries ago and we do not even know how people really were then, how all this evolution took place, how something like this is depicted. And seeing children as they portrayed them, I also learned many things, I have to tell you the truth, because the children were able to create what Mrs. Vardinoyannis said, symbols. And I believe that only with symbols can such an event really be depicted and give exactly what we need, that is, to give this importance that this fight had, to keep the European spirit intact from it, we would say, the great power, which came from Asia, and to keep this ideal of Democracy, which today really all of Europe rejoices. And thanks to this ideal of Democracy we can develop so many works of culture of humanity and justice. Thank you very much, I wish the children every success and always give us such beautiful works”.

In her greeting, Mrs. Vana Xenou mentioned, among other:

“I am very glad that we are all here together in this extremely interesting event. I would like to congratulate the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” and Mrs. Vardinoyannis, of course, for the continuous and tireless multi-level initiatives of the Foundation and the idea of ​​incorporating children to this event, who represent the new, the future. The student competition, which focuses on the creation of paintings related to the celebration of the 2.500th Anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the naval Battle of Salamis, raises the hope that the new generation can understand history, not just as a science that lists facts, but with its messages and symbolism it cultivates intercultural consciousness. It is true that the transmission of each cultural period is the central element for the continuity of each culture. And it is a didactic act of the utmost importance. And now I want to talk to the children, to these beautiful faces who showed a huge dynamism with these paintings that they presented to us. I want to tell them that they should see competitions as a field of rivalry in a combined knowledge that expands collaboration, critical thinking, unleashes forces of expression and communication. Because, when the effort seems to be individual and everyone tries individually and alone, and thus through this amazing thematic possibility to approach the deep meaning of Greek culture, it creates a co-existence where the individual is in dialogue with the collective. A dialogue that distinguishes your different skills, your personalities and even the hidden strengths that each of you have… At this point I would like to defend art, because I believe that art adds something that is almost unexpected…”

Mrs. Dora Rogan, in her address stated, among other things:

“I congratulate Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, President of the Honorary Committee of the Anniversary Year “Thermopylae – Salamis 2020″and President of her homonymous Foundation, essentially, and not formally for the clever, brilliant idea of ​​this Competition about the Anniversary Year that covers multifaceted symbols even today. This idea was genius and honestly absolutely necessary for the promotion of the soul of Greece. Mrs. Vardinoyannis gives her best effort to succeed in everything she tries. And this is because in the social and cultural field she has been an absolute success because she speaks from the heart. I would also like to thank or rather greet the Children’s Gallery of Greece and its Director who helped in the selection of the paintings. I will, of course, refer to the winners as well as to all the children who took part in the painting competition, because, apart from the talent, what we confirm and appreciate is the mood for creation. This disposition for creation, especially in the age we live in, the abominable age in many ways, is the one that protects our inner world. I want to congratulate the teachers and all the children and their parents and of course the winners, because they understood that life is not just a computer, nor a mobile phone, it is the appeal for creation. The appeal for creation responds to the strongest human instinct, the instinct of creation. Because if Paleolithic man had to confirm his existence in order to preserve it every minute, if art was a luxury, he would not have the need to carve or paint his cave. Art ensures communication between people and shows a passage, a power to those who honor it, regardless of the talent… Soul does not enter molds, soul is free to create. It is not a machine. Congratulations to those who have understood it and congratulations to the children who paint independently of the talent, because they listen to their soul and what they convey on paper is the breath of their soul. The soul is invincible because it is the necessary condition for us to continue to be human”.

Mr. Takis Mavrotas was the last of the members of the Evaluation Committee to address this event, mentioning among others:

“Thank you very much, dear Mrs. Vardinoyannis, warm congratulations once again onstanding worthy of the great responsibilities towards our life and culture. And with all your inspired actions you served the universal dimension of the huge theme “Thermopylae-Salamis 2020”. You also mobilized Greek children from all over the country for another year together with the Children’s Gallery of Greece on the occasion of the annual children’s painting competition. Our little painters reveal their own story about the unsurpassed heroism, bravery and self-denial of all those who fought for freedom and dignity. Thus, all the children deserve a big “Evge” (“well done”) for their artistic prosperity and their effort to capture the idea of ​​the beautiful through our history.

My dear children, I always wish you to see and feel the historical painting from the works of Eugene Delacroix to Theodoros Vryzakis and Konstantinos Volanakis and to learn from it. And do not forget that the father of Greek seascape, Konstantinos Volanakis, 139 years ago painted the famous Battle of Salamis. … Professor of the School of Fine Arts, Michalis Arfaras, urged you to keep the European spirit, and I would like to ask you and your parents and teachers to visit the Maritime Museum of Greece to see another great painting by Konstantinos Volanakis the “Naval Battle of Navarino”, this huge painting that depicts this great naval battle thanks to which we gained our independence… “.

The Head of the Children’s Gallery of Greece, Mrs. Aikaterini Leggou, spoke on behalf of the students, referring to the messages that emerged from their works:

“First of all, I would like to warmly congratulate the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation”, which so brilliantly managed to honor the 2500th Anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae and the Naval Battle of Salamis at such a critical time for humanity. Having the special honor to represent the young artists of the Children’s Gallery of Greece, I would like to convey to you the voices and thoughts of children as they were captured on the canvas during the competition that we had the pleasure to co-organize with the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation”. Beyond the depiction of the two great battles, what is an admirable element in children’s paintings, is the hope that illuminates the ominous picture of reality. And the unshakable belief that tomorrow holds for our world the dawn of a better day. Using the power of art, the children depicted in their works Peace, Democracy, Freedom, Solidarity, Human Rights. Historical facts that became a legend and praised by orators and great tragedians, became a source of inspiration for our little creators, who looked up to our heroic ancestors and engraved on paper their refusal to accept anything less than excellent, a resounding promise for a bright future. Warm congratulations to all 830 children who painted, to all the children who gave us these wonderful masterpieces!”

The event ended with the announcement of the new Painting Competition for primary school students organized by the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis Foundation” in collaboration with the Children’s Gallery of Greece for the school year 2021, under the theme “If there are dreams, then there are Roads that lead to their goal“, the phrase of one of the most emblematic personalities of the 20th century, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela to whom the competition is dedicated.

The competition lasts from March 17 to April 25, 2021 and refers to the creation of paintings dedicated to the common dream of children of Earth for humanity to defeat the pandemic, walking the path of unity and global cooperation.

Information about the competition can be found on the websites:Web: