We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Ryan Presley Blood money – infinite dollar note – Aunty Regina Pilawuk Wilson

watercolour on paper

146.4 x 60.5 cm

This work is a culmination of Ryan Presley’s Blood money series, developed over 13 years, and marks his first time as an Archibald finalist. Replacing the portraits on Australian banknotes with significant Aboriginal Australians, the series explores Australian history through a First Nations lens, and the damage wrought by exploitation.

Aunty Regina Pilawuk Wilson (Ngangikurrunggurr) is an artist, cultural revivalist and community leader. She and her late husband, Uncle Harry Wilson (Ngangikurrunggurr), were key figures in the Aboriginal-led establishment of the Peppimenarti community in the Northern Territory.

‘The 1970s foundation of Peppimenarti is an amazing example of Aboriginal self-determination, persistence and success in the face of adversity. It is a watershed moment in the homelands movement and the application of land rights,’ says Mparntwe/Alice Springs–born, Brisbane-based Presley.

‘This artwork makes passing reference to the five-dollar note in circulation. I believe Aunty Regina’s life and achievements provide an important comparison to Queen Elizabeth II’s. Both women have a regal air: one substantiated by an empire and the consumption of colonialism; the other achieved through the great feat of reclaiming her (and her community’s) cultural identity in the face of colonialism.’

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