Artwork has real currency
Infinite Note by Ryan Presley.
At first glance, Ryan Presley's Infinite Note depicts the front of the current $50 banknote, which shows the indigenous Australian author and inventor, David Unaipon. But the Brisbane artist's meticulous watercolour substitutes most details of the note with Aboriginal imagery and its numerical value with an infinity symbol.
Presley, 25, replaces Unaipon with Tjedaberiyn (whose name is often Anglicised to Tedbury), the son of the 18th-century Aboriginal warrior, Pemulwuy.
Like his father, Tjedaberiyn led raids on Europeans around Sydney until he was shot in 1810. Presley says he did not intend to disrespect Unaipon's legacy but believes it had been misrepresented by whites.
Presley's banknote also replaces the word ''Australia'' with ''Bidgigal'', the indigenous Australians of western Sydney. A battle between Aborigines and soldiers is shown above a raised fist, which symbolises black power.
''I wanted to have something appropriate for Australia that was direct and easily understood,'' says Presley, who believes money has long been associated with war in the West.
Infinite Note will be exhibited in the Redlands Art Prize, which opens at the National Art School in Darlinghurst on May 3.
Presley is not the first artist to appropriate money to create politically charged art. Darren Siwes won the 2007 Redlands Art Prize with his photographic work The Just and the Unjust, which replaced the Queen's head on a coin with an Aboriginal man.
Brisbane artist Luke Roberts replaced the Queen's head with controversial indigenous artist Richard Bell for his coin-like painting In Mob We Trust, a finalist for this year's Archibald Prize.
Presley's work continues his Blood Money series, which won the 2010 Griffith University Art Gallery's Graduate Show. His pieces sold out at Jan Manton Art in Brisbane and he was granted $10,000 by the Australia Council last year.