How to get banknotes right

How to get banknotes right: Royal Bank of Scotland and Nan Shepherd


'But the struggle between frost and the force in running water is not quickly over. The battle fluctuates, and at the point of fluctuation between the motion in water and the immobility of frost, strange and beautiful forms are evolved' (Shepherd, The Living Mountain).

Unsmiling, authoritative, Shepherd is powerful and, most importantly, unedited - not prettified - with an image most closely associated with her public, modernist identity. She has been selected for her intimate knowledge of and passion for the Cairngorms and as an icon of Scottishness and national admiration rather than as a cipher of female excellence or achievement. Significantly, the fivers have been nicknamed the 'People's Money' as a wide variety of Scots (over 1000) were consulted, including artists, weavers and designers, who all contributed to its production. 

Despite dire warnings of committees and camels, of all the images of women on banknotes, I suggest that this is the way to do it: a collaborative effort that takes the banknote out of the boardrooms of banks and asks the people who will use them to produce the designs.  And to earn the name 'The People's Money' suggests an almost counter-cultural socialist moment. However, it makes me wonder: does it ironise or detract from the fact that RBS had to be rescued with the people's money?