Mori Gallery, Sydney
Acquired from the above by the present owner
The Multiple Series (1992) consists of six paintings of the same banknotes rendered in six different impressions. The note in question is the five pound note of the Republic of Biafra, a short-lived West African state that seceded from Nigeria in 1967, sparking a civil war. From 1967-70, approximately 2.5 million Biafran civilians, most of them children, died of starvation due to the Nigerian naval blockade. Despite the support of several European and African nations, Biafra surrendered in January 1970 and rejoined Nigeria.
Susan Norrie produced this series by painting in oil over screen-printed images of banknotes onto canvas. Having already experimented with stencils in larger paintings, Norrie’s mix of screen-printing and painting explores themes of consumerism and mass-production, while also challenging the traditional notion of prints and multiples in a series. By selecting banknotes – which, by their nature, are printed in bulk – Norrie is in a sense printing her own currency onto the canvases. But by painting over the top of the prints and creating significant variation and uniqueness in each image, she challenges the idea that one print is the same as another, emphasising differences in colour, texture and shading.
Norrie completed several Multiple Series, including a much larger Equivalence (Multiple Series) (1992), which consisted of 100 works of other banknotes that were displayed as a grid but sold in smaller groups. These banknotes included the Bank of the Congo in the 1960s as well as concentration camp coupons issued to prisoners in Nazi Germany in the 1930s-40s. The common theme of all the Multiple Series works is the economies of failed states or empoverished and destitute peoples as a comment on the way in which consumer culture and money are indifferent to human life. In contrast to the larger series, however, this group of six paintings is more coherent, all being of the same banknote image and limited to a precise and complete edition.
Image courtesy of the artist