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Philip Trusttum's Passport to the New Millenium was a millennium project initiated by Christchurch City Councillor, Anna Crighton in 1999. The artist was invited to complete a series of panels that celebrated the new century to be placed along the West Wall of the Christchurch Convention Centre. It was intended that at the end of the year in December 2000 the panels would be dismantled and sold, either in sections or as single art works to public and private collections. The Centre of Contemporary Art (COCA) was invited to act as agent for the sale of the panels and initially approached galleries and clients throughout New Zealand, inviting them to view and purchase the works. However, within the first week of profiling the panels for sale it became apparent that there was an overwhelming enthusiasm among the art community and art institutions for Passport to remain in its current location. Passport was a unique public art work that should be retained as it was conceived and held for the city of Christchurch for all time.
Accordingly, COCA's director, Warren Feeney, established a fundraising campaign to secure the necessary revenue to purchase the work for the city. In addition to private donations, significant grants from the Department of Internal Affairs, the Christchurch City Council, and the Canterbury Community Trust, ensured that by 2004, the required sum of $250,000 had been raised for the retention of Passport in the Christchurch Convention Centre.
"A mural to stretch from Kilmore Street to Peterborough Street along the west wall of the Christchurch Convention Centre! What to paint?".
"I needed words for this mural,” said Philip Trusttum. "I started with the Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of the word Millennium: 'Period of a thousand years. That of Christ's reign in person on earth. Period of good government, great happiness and prosperity."
Trusttum says, "When I got to the word<em> prosperity I still had a quarter of the
mural to finish. In its definition The Oxford Dictionary refers to Revelations XX,
Feeney considers the significance of the text <strong>Passport</strong> invites comparison with his earlier works.
"While the artist's commitment and passion for the game of tennis inspired the Motif Series from mid 1990's, vital to this body of work was the use of the printed word. Sports gear, tennis balls, rackets, and clothing all found their way into these paintings through fragments of letters, colours and numbers as the artist integrated this calligraphy onto large textured and coloured canvases. Passport to the New Millennium gives free reign to this visual dialogue allowing the artist to generate and expand a dynamic and inventive penmanship."
Feeney says <em>Passport</em> does more than compound that interest in calligraphy.
"The unravelling of line upon form and colour throughout the 84 metres of the continuously unfolding iconography celebrates the artist's ability to alter, extend, diminish, and invent, to the point where the phrases and text lose their initial meaning, confirming that the artist is acting as the consummate designer."
"This is a work of art that invites its audience to walk, amble, bound and run beside, and with it. It offers those who are interested an opportunity to be taken by the artist on a profound and spirited journey through mark and surface, colour and line.
The total dimension is 84.180 metres long and 2.440 metres high. There are 140 particle board panels, each numbered and signed. The work took 6 months to complete, used 121 litres of acrylic paint and 80 litres of undercoat and sealer.
Brian High's videos show this process in action. Contact: Brian High Photographer, 51 Broadway Avenue, Timaru, New Zealand. Phone/fax 00 64 3 686 0581