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Gordon Andrews

In their own words

Recorded 1974

Gordon Andrews
Audio: 2 minutes

I’d selected the portraits, or the people to be illustrated. In the original problem of producing the one, two, ten and twenty, I had thought of using Caroline Chisholm on the reverse of the one to go with Her Majesty’s portrait, but the bank knocked that right back. They said, ‘Well, we don’t quite think that Caroline Chisholm is the right person.’ In any case, it wasn’t a very good idea, I think that it was better to have something quite abstract on the back of that one. Finally, then, in the next series, once the first four were published, they then quickly said, ‘Well, we must now produce a five’ which was always intended in the first series. So I put Caroline Chisholm up again and then she was okayed. They’d had time to think about it.

For the two dollar I had two primary production people, I had a wool man and the wheat man, the backbone original thing of Australia. Then on the 10 dollar I had two people from the field of art, one an architect and one a writer. Then on the 20 I got into the more inventive things and the more courageous things. Aviation was a good theme so I used Smithy and Hargrave, Smithy being the great explorer, aviator, and Hargrave being a great inventor of aircraft.

Although bank notes are security documents and the first problem, right in front of your mind always, must be security – how can you make it more difficult for a counterfeiter to copy – it still remains, in a sense, a work of art, or I’d prefer to call it, in fact, a work of design, because I believe that design also can come under the broad heading as art. A really good piece of design is in a sense a work of art.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Gordon Andrews is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

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Gordon Andrews

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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