Message from KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations and
Patron of the UN Millennium Art Exhibition


This exhibition grew out of a unique art competition in which both amateur and professional painters were asked to depict their visions of life in their countries in the year 2000. The results, far from being inward looking and parochial, provide us with a splendid example of how the universal language of art can cross boundaries and barriers, bringing nations together to promote greater understanding among peoples and cultures.

The appeal of the competition lies in its accessibility. In many countries, the project united people from all walks of life: art authorities, government officials, the private sector and the news media. In some, grants and the provision of art materials ensured that anyone who wished to enter could do so.

The strength of the exhibition lies in its extraordinary diversity of imagery, styles, and subject matter. The multiple challenges faced by the international community are mirrored in the themes chosen by the artists. Some paintings depict concern for the plight of children living in poverty; others focus on the degradation of the global environment; and still others celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. All evince a common desire to make the world a better place – an aim shared by the United Nations.

I would like to thank the organisers, Winsor & Newton and Sheeran Lock, for their vision, as well as their generosity in donating proceeds to UNICEF. Art can be a powerful influence for positive change and voice for those who otherwise might not be heard. Let us hope that further arts initiatives will grow from the seeds sown by this truly global and exceptionally imaginative venture.

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