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"OUR COMMON CURRENCY", 2020
PORTRAIT OF GORD DOWNIE OF THE TRAGICALLY HIP
MADE BY & ON LOAN FROM LUKE CARRUTHERS | AIRDRIE, ALBERTA
“'Our Common Currency' is a 5x8 foot portrait of Gord Downie, musician, poet, activist, and most commonly known as the lead singer of The Tragically Hip. Having travelled for years working for my father’s record stores across the Maritimes and Newfoundland, I had collected piles of pennies, change dumped out of my pockets after weeks spent in hotels and mall food courts. The dimes and quarters got spent, but pennies seemed to find themselves in drawers, or the bottoms of moving boxes then dumped into various jars. One day some coworkers were rolling change from donation boxes around our office. I bought all the pennies thinking I could add them to my own collection and create a penny floor in my basement. It was shortly after that we heard that Gord had glioblastoma, and it was terminal. Having been a fan of the band since first hearing 'Blow at High Dough' on a sampler CD at work in the early 90’s, I decided what to do with the pennies. It was shortly after Gord’s death that I started figuring out how to build the portrait. In the spring of 2017, I started to work in earnest and completed the project in August of 2020.”
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“The name 'Our Common Currency' comes from something Gord said while performing with the Sadies at a Stampede tent a few years back. It was something to the effect of ‘Stories are our common currency, it’s all we’ve really got.’ That stuck with me and years later I thought it was a perfect name for the piece, given the medium. Pennies, while virtually worthless on their own, have value when they’re brought together. While no longer part of our Canadian currency, I hoped to bring these pennies together in a way that gave them a different value to anyone who sees them, and Gord in there, and hopefully share their stories about music, the band we love, the country we live in and the experiences we share.”