Show Me the Money

  • Knight, Peter (PI)
  • Marsh, Nicky (CoI)
  • Crosthwaite, Paul (CoI)
  • Robinson, Alistair (CoI)
  • Streffen, Isabella (Researcher)

Project Details


Funded by an AHRC Follow-On grant and an Arts Council grant, the 'Show Me The Money' exhibition was a collaboration between Dr Peter Knight (English and American Studies at The University of Manchester), Prof. Nicky Marsh (University of Southampton), Dr Paul Crosthwaite (University of Edinburgh), Alistair Robinson, the director of the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, and Dr Isabella Streffen, the postdoctoral research associate on the project.

The Image of Finance, 1700 to the Present
The exhibition asked: what does 'the market' look like? What does money really stand for? How can the abstractions of high finance be made visible? The exhibition charted how the financial world has been imagined in art, illustration, photography and other visual media over the last three centuries in Britain and the United States. The project asked how artists have grappled with the increasingly intangible and self-referential nature of money and finance, from the South Sea Bubble of the eighteenth century to the global financial crisis of 2008. The exhibition included an array of media: paintings, prints, photographs, videos, artefacts, and instruments of financial exchange both 'real' and imagined. The exhibition also charted the development of a variety of financial visualisations, including stock tickers and charts, newspaper illustrations, bank adverts, and electronic trading systems.

Show Me the Money demonstrated that the visual culture of finance has not merely reflected prevailing attitudes to money and banking, but has been crucial in forging – and at times critiquing – the very idea of 'the market'. The exhibition toured three distinct regions of the country, beginning at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. It was then shown across two sites simultaneously: John Hansard Gallery, part of Southampton University, and Chawton House Library in Hampshire, which was owned by Jane Austen’s brother, himself implicated in a financial scandal of the 1810s. In 2015 the show continued to the People's History Museum in Manchester, a national museum that houses material history from the union and co-operative movements.

The exhibition included newly commissioned works by Cornford & Cross, James O Jenkins, Immo Klink, Jane Lawson, Simon Roberts, David Stedham, and others, alongside the UK premieres of works by Molly Crabapple, Thomas Gokey, Goldin & Senneby and Wolfgang Weileder. It also included major works by artists including Bill Balaskas, Mark Boulos, Robin Bhattacharya, Rhiannon Williams, and Carey Young. Woven into the contemporary works were both historical images and artefacts from the banking profession. The former included prints by William Hogarth, James Gillray and George Cruikshank, the leading graphic artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Archive ephemera from Barclays, TSB and other banks were shown with nineteenth-century American cartoons, and historical board games created to give the public an insight into the realm of finance.

The project website included an interactive game in the style of a newspaper beauty contest which is modelled on JM Keynes’ famous description of how the stock market operates. In addition 'Show Me the Money', a free app for children and adults, was available to download on the Apple App Store. Users could design their own money, dress like a trader, and test their nerve in a stock market investment game. The app also featured background information and facts about the world of finance and a guide to the exhibition.

The exhibition was accompanied by a fully illustrated book, published by Manchester University Press and edited by Peter Knight, Nicky Marsh and Paul Crosthwaite. The publication provided a wider set of contexts – professional, intellectual, political, literary and artistic – that informed the exhibition. The authors examined the history and politics of representations of finance through five essays by academic experts and curators alongside five commissioned contributions by notable public commentators on finance and art. The writers included Andy Haldane, the Chief Economist at the Bank of England, who asked us: "What do you think about when you think about a 'market'?"
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