Perhaps it’s a sign that paper money has entered its late rococo period as the revolution of digital currency makes bills feel as arcane as fax machines, but there’s been a recent burst of creativity as designers and artists are tackling banknotes as a medium. A few months ago, we reported on the beautifully abstract design by Snøhetta for Norway’s note, but now Jeremy Deller’s new Brixton Pound is the latest to cash.
The Turner Prize–winning British artist has designed the B£5 note of the Brixton Pound, a local currency in south London. The psychedelic design commemorates the fifth anniversary of the currency, which was created in 2009 to support local businesses. The design is bright and vibrant, even if it’s a little quirky. One Brixton news site, Brixton Buzz, accurately joked that the creation looks like it has “been whizzed through Google’s image recognition neural network.”
And the bill is not without its self-critical quirks — it is art, after all. Dezeen pointed out that the B£5 even features a quote by proto-Marxist Karl Marx on the back:
It isn’t the first creative design for the Brixton Pound, which was launched in 2009, but it is certainly the most high profile. In 2011, creative studio This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll designed the money with various local celebrities, including Len Garrison, one of the founders of the Black Cultural Archives.
The group promoting the Deller designs thinks it has a winner on its hands, and is offering the special edition for sale on its website for a rather reasonable £11.20, which might be the most affordable Deller multiple ever. In case you need more convincing, the Brixton Pound’s own designer, Charlie Waterhouse, offers this endorsement that reads like a sales pitch:
These are the most amazing currency notes ever produced. No exaggeration. They’re beautiful and mysterious; spiritual and politicising. In two small sides of paper it provides the most compelling response to the rot that emanates from the Square Mile that I’ve seen since we were all told we had to live under the yoke of Austerity.
The banknote even comes in a special fold-out B£ presentation case, which is fitting as all these pretty notes will undoubtedly become collectibles.
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