Essex and Suffolk artist John Constable to feature on the new UK passport
- Credit: PA
Landscape artist John Constable, renowned for his paintings of the Suffolk and north Essex countryside, has been unveiled as one of the faces of the new UK passport.
The Passport Office has chosen a theme of Creative United Kingdom for the new 34-page document, which was unveiled today.
Constable is among those depicted on it, along with playwright William Shakespeare, sculptor Anish Kapoor and writer Ada Lovelace.
Also pictured are architects Elisabeth Scott and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, artist Sir Antony Gormley, computer pioneer Charles Babbage and clockmaker John Harrison.
The inclusion of just two women in the line-up has prompted a sexism row, with claims from the gender equality group the Fawcett Society that woman are “being airbrushed out of history”.
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Mark Thomson, director general of the Passport Office, said: “It wasn’t something where we said let’s set out to only have two women.
“In trying to celebrate the UK’s creativity we tried to get a range of locations and things around the country to celebrate our triumphs over the years, so there we are.
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“We’ve got 16 pages, a very finite space. We like to feel we’ve got a good representative view celebrating some real icons of the UK – Shakespeare, Constable and of course Elisabeth Scott herself.”
The new design was said to have been developed by the Passport Office and authorised by ministers
Other pages are devoted to Stephenson’s Rocket – the world’s first modern steam locomotive – the London Underground, the Penny Black stamp, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, cultural festivals such as Caribbean carnivals and Chinese New Year and famous locations including the Houses of Parliament.
A portrait of Shakespeare is used for the security watermark on each page.
Presenting the new passport in London, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said it will “showcase the great successes of UK culture”.
He added: “From the time of Shakespeare’s writing and through to the present day the UK has been a global leader in the creative industries.”
Officials said the new passport was the most secure ever produced, with a host of new features to limit the risk of tampering or forgery.
They include embedded security fibres, a perforated version of the holder’s passport number and enhanced holograms.
Mr Thomson said: “This is the most secure passport we have ever produced. Try forging this – it’s going to be very, very difficult indeed.
“I think this is good enough to make someone just not bother. We think it’s pretty damn good.”
A new passport is launched in the UK every five years. The new version has been produced as part of a 10-year £400 million contract, and will be phased in from December.