“All over the world bank notes reflect the society that makes them... who the people are, who the government is, what is important to them... their religion. It varies and should not always be believed.”
Focusing on the concept of money and its impact on civilisation, Justine Smith’s distinctive work is held in prominent collections worldwide including the British Council and the UK Government Art Collection. Examining the political and moral implications of our relationship with the monetary system her intricate collages and sculptures exploit the physical beauty of the notes themselves.
Exhibiting in galleries and museums internationally, Justine Smith works with paper as a primary medium. Interestingly, Gordon Brown chose her iconic ‘Euro’ image to adorn the wall of 10 Downing Street during his time as Prime Minister.
Born in Somerset, Justine Smith moved to London and studied at The City and Guilds of London Art School. Occupying a space in Streatham, her studio looks like the hideout of an international bank robber. Through her work, Justine Smith has become somewhat of an expert on the interpretation of bank notes; using only new and uncirculated money.
With the idea that money, in a physical aspect, is only paper, it is the value with which we mentally associate it that makes it so valuable. Such political and social reflections are a hallmark of Justine’s work, but equally, so is the thought that goes into the colour and shape of the pieces, ‘Arab notes are beautiful’. Justine Smith is keen for those who design and make the banknotes to be seen as artists themselves.