How can G20 issues be represented artistically? This was the question addressed by around 30 students from two local high schools as part of a joint one-day project in the German town of Baden-Baden on 14 February 2017.

Participants were supported by the Vienna-based performance artist Ernst Handl, who is creating a “Global Stone Garden” to mark the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden-Baden on 17–18 March 2017. The Global Stone Garden will consist of hundreds of stones that are currently being painted in the finance ministries and central banks of the G20 member countries; the finance ministers and central bank governors themselves are also taking part. Handl plans to arrange the painted stones in flowerbed-shaped steel constructions and assemble them into a stone garden. The artwork will be unveiled during the upcoming meeting of finance ministers at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden.

“Today, you have the chance to design a stone with pens and paint,” Handl told the participating students. “In just a few hours, you can achieve what nature normally takes millions of years to do!” He added: “And who knows? Maybe your stone will lie in the Global Stone Garden next to one created by a minister or central bank governor.”

The project was supported by Baden-Baden Mayor Margret Mergen, who encouraged the students to have fun and get creative in her opening remarks. Ms Mergen also called on the students to play their part in making the upcoming G20 meeting a success and to welcome the international visitors to their city.

By the end of the day, the students had produced around 40 brightly painted stones. Some of the designs expressed the students’ desire for peace and global justice. Other motifs included the importance of regional and cultural roots in a globalised world, and sport as an activity that promotes international understanding.

A few stones did not actually focus on G20 topics but were used for romantic messages instead. It was, after all, Valentine’s Day.