From convict love tokens to Bitcoin

After two years on the road the Creative Accounting tour sadly comes to an end. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of this unique exhibition combining art and artefacts and exploring ideas around money and economic systems at a time when money is becoming increasingly abstract. 

Travelling 5,170 km to 7 metro and regional NSW, VIC and QLD venues the exhibition attracted 54,132 visitors. Each venue engaged their community through dynamic public programs, from the ‘Bling’ trivia night at Western Plains Cultural Centre, to Bitcoin documentary screenings and academic panel discussions at UQ Art Museum and a money-themed magician’s performance at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery’s launch of the tour.

Curated by Holly Williams, developed in collaboration with Hawkesbury Regional Gallery and supported by a M&G NSW Curatorial Support Initiative grant the exhibition contained a mix of important historical items as well as significant and emerging contemporary art making Creative Accounting a popular choice for both art and historical museums.

The exhibition included work by Conrad Bakker, Ian Burns, Penelope Cain, Joachim Froese, Melanie Gilligan, Fiona Hall, Andrew Hurle, Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre, Daniel McKewen, Christine McMillan, Kenzee Patterson, Ryan Presley, David Shapiro and Abdullah M.I. Syed; alongside intriguing archival objects such as coins, adding machines and forgers tools from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), the Westpac Group Archives, Hawkesbury Regional Museum and various private collections.

As one venue remarked, the Creative Accounting tour provided: ‘access to collections of national importance such as loans from state and national collections ….The result was regional access to an exhibition with strong curatorial rigor and exposure to new artists as well as culturally significant items’ (Western Plains Cultural Centre).

Audiences really responded to the mix of museum and art objects addressing aspects of currency, something we all deal with daily. Visitors reacted to this unique exhibition with comments such as:

‘What a surprising view of currency and how it influences our lives’.

‘Very fascinating. A very thoughtful exhibition on something we handle every day’.

‘Wonderful exhibition. Fabulous art responses to money’.

The touring of precious items from national collections was at times a logistical challenge, for example antique coins and forger’s tongs from MAAS required specialist handling at each venue. Another challenge was the vast amount of travel undertaken by the curator to regional venues; researching and curating local archival and historical items into the show as a bespoke element of the tour, tailoring the exhibition to each regional context.

M&G NSW would like to thank Holly Williams for her passion for the project and support throughout the tour. We would also like to thank Diana Robson and the team at Hawkesbury Regional Gallery for their commitment and support in developing and presenting this unique exhibition to regional audiences.


This project is supported by Create NSW’s Curatorial Support Initiative grant, a devolved funding program administered by Museums & Galleries of NSW on behalf of the NSW Government. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.


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