Filipino painters used dirty-water pigments to highlight pollution in Manila

MANILA (Reuters) - Polluted Manila river water has inspired a team of Filipino artists to paint watercolors using dirty water pigments to promote awareness of environmental degradation.

Nine artists were commissioned to paint images using sterilized pigments from six contaminated rivers in the sprawling Philippine capital for an exhibit called “Dirty Watercolor”, now on display in a Manila mall.

The paintings depict everyday scenes along Manila’s river banks, from children taking a dip in polluted water to people taking shelter under a bridge, and are priced from 40,000 Philippine pesos ($854), with proceeds going to a local charity.

“At first it was difficult because it was the first time I experienced using dirty pigments, and second was the smell,” said JC Vargas, one of the artists. “Although the pigments have already been decontaminated, the smell of the sludge was still present, so that was a big challenge for us artists.”

The Philippine government and several non-governmental organizations have tried for many years to cleanse the polluted rivers but the problem persists.

Reporting by Roli Ng; Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Mark Heinrich