Untitled [Sheet of sketches for decimal currency]

Untitled [Sheet of sketches for decimal currency], James Johnstone, Graphite, pen and ink on paper, c. 1966. UC/MBL/2138

James Johnstone, Graphite, pen and ink on paper, c. 1966. UC/MBL/2138

When New Zealand’s currency changed to the decimal system in 1967, it seemed fitting that new coin designs would be created to commemorate the occasion. Artists were invited to submit their designs for consideration, with both the public and the committee able to view and vote upon those shortlisted. Though Johnstone’s designs were not chosen, they were not viewed unfavourably either. This sheet of preliminary sketches is particularly interesting, as it incorporates Māori kowhaiwhai patterns. Johnstone had become interested in these traditional designs upon his move to New Zealand, and often incorporated them in chalices and patens he created for commissions throughout the country. The most resolved design on this particular page is that intended for the fifty-cent coin, which shows the numerals surrounded by a circle of interlocking kowhaiwhai koru, which are precisely outlined in near-perfect symmetry. To the right of the fifty-cent design is one not featuring kowhaiwhai patterns, but instead a New Zealand native plant – the pohutakawa – and stars in the shape of the Southern Cross.

James Johnstone : A selection of artworks


Click on the thumbnails to discover more about this striking selection of artworks by James Johnstone. Images selected and written about by Alice Tappenden.

Allandale Springtime, James Johnstone, c. 1953. Oil on Canvas. UC/MBL/2330
Untitled [Botanical Drawing], James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper, 1920. UC/MBL/2133
Untitled [Design for Chalice], James Johnstone, Pencil and ink drawing on paper, Date unknown. UC/MBL/2061
Untitled [Sheet of sketches for decimal currency], James Johnstone, Graphite, pen and ink on paper, c. 1966. UC/MBL/2138
Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151
Floral Design, James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2109
Untitled [Head Study], James Johnstone, Charcoal on paper, 1913. UC/MBL/2154
On the Solway, James Johnstone, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2236
Untitled [Design for Centennial Stamp, ChristChurch Cathedral], James Johnstone, c. 1949, Watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2103
Untitled [The Camp, Woodend], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2212
Untitled [Woodend Beach], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2217
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