Handspan is the only public sculpture created by Whanganui potter, Ross Mitchell-Anyon.
With initial support from the Arts Council of New Zealand, the sculpture project gained further traction after winning a design competition organised by Operation Peace Through Unity.
The proposed design was maintained in the final piece with a double spiral twenty meters across, rising three metres high, and enclosed in a shell of ceramic tiles.
Each tile features the handprint of a local resident, ranging from three months old to the eldest participant, Rita Clapham, who had recently celebrated her 106th birthday. Other notable handprints include that of then Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and Race Relations Conciliator, Gregory Fortuin.
Through a coordinated series of school and community group visits, the artist collected thousands of prints which captured the span of a community at the turn of the millennium.
Whanganui glass artist, David Traub contributed glass cast hands which are integrated in the sculpture as well.
On September 21st 2002, the first fixed International Day of Peace, the sculpture was officially dedicated at Pukenamu, Queen’s Park, to ‘a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world’ by the New Zealand Governor-General, the Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright.
The artwork remains a site of contemplation, play and peace for the wider Whanganui community.