A few weeks ago I booked tickets to Japan after a special came through for plane flights. It was both an impulse purchase and a long time in coming. In particular, a friend of mine and I had been interested in travelling to Japan for many years now but the timing was never right, and now, luckily, we're going to make it work.
And so now begins the planning, everything from hotels to rail passes, travel insurance and passports. It was during this research and inquiry that I came across an unofficial competition being held to redesign the UK passport after Brexit. The idea was to present a positive vision of the post-Brexit UK to the world, and that represents all its citizens. This was an interesting thought to me as I had not considered the full reach of the Brexit on common items within the UK and to redesign the passport as a way of showing the change but in a positive way. The competition is still open and I am looking forward to seeing the passport designs people interpret and create based on the new UK.
Along this vein of thought I then looked back at my Australian passport and it's design, the simple cover and colourful interior. Traditional Australian animals and images are quite standard amongst any Australian documents, officially released Government designs etc and the passport is no exception. The cover is a simple block of colour with the Australian coat of arms in gold and inside are pages with various illustrations of Australian animals and flora, when compared to other nations passports ours is quite illustrative on in inside, others that I've seen will have illustrations but often simple and of only a few colours.
I then started looking into new passport designs and interesting features being developed for passports. I first found the Finnish passport which has a quirky twist that provides additional entertainment to travelers; it features an illustration of an elk that appears to walk when its pages are flicked like a flip book.
The Japanese passport was another country redesigning, it revealed its new design set to be released in 2019, inside it will be filled with famous artwork, especially the masterpiece landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by ukiyo-e woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai. This is a wonderful inclusion of culture and art within a document that represents where a person comes from. Instead of passports being just official requirements they are becoming cultural representations through the combination of design and nationality.
As I have only travelled overseas once before, a passports design was never something I had really explored or thought about, particularly as a way of representing a country to other people. With this design competition to invite change to the UK's passport, I have begun to see how important a passport is even further than its official requirement to gain access and cross the country’s borders.