Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Artistic licence to print money

Furious at the government's inaction, two artists decided to "give themselves the power of government"

Hero for Artistic licence to print money
Artists Dan and Hilary in front of their temporary printing press in Walthamstow (credit: Power)
By Nadoya Reid 05 July 2022

Two Walthamstow artists are printing and selling their own currency to fund turning their road into a localised "power station".Two Walthamstow artists are printing and selling their own currency to fund turning their road into a localised "power station".

Project Power is a “show and do” art performance by Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn, through which they hope to raise £1million by the end of this year.Project Power is a “show and do” art performance by Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn, through which they hope to raise £1million by the end of this year.

The money will be used to install solar panels and insulation on every house in Lynmouth Road, creating a “zero-carbon emissions” street they hope will be a “template” for the rest of the UK.The money will be used to install solar panels and insulation on every house in Lynmouth Road, creating a “zero-carbon emissions” street they hope will be a “template” for the rest of the UK.

To raise the money, they have been printing and selling “Greenbacks”, an art piece currency they created, and selling memberships to the project via their website.To raise the money, they have been printing and selling “Greenbacks”, an art piece currency they created, and selling memberships to the project via their website.

Greenbacks (credit: Power)Greenbacks (credit: Power)

Dan told the Echo that, seeing the government’s lack of action in response to climate change, they decided to “give themselves the power of government” by printing money.Dan told the Echo that, seeing the government’s lack of action in response to climate change, they decided to “give themselves the power of government” by printing money.

He said: “The government’s primary duty should be to protect the people but that doesn’t seem to be the case. We see ourselves as an emergency government in response to the energy crisis.”He said: “The government’s primary duty should be to protect the people but that doesn’t seem to be the case. We see ourselves as an emergency government in response to the energy crisis.”

The pair decided to focus on their and their neighbours’ homes after learning that 50% of the borough’s carbon emissions come from housing.The pair decided to focus on their and their neighbours’ homes after learning that 50% of the borough’s carbon emissions come from housing.

Hilary said she hoped the project would empower other artists to “target big issues”, adding: “Art is not just there to reflect or comment. It is also there to take power.Hilary said she hoped the project would empower other artists to “target big issues”, adding: “Art is not just there to reflect or comment. It is also there to take power.

“We are making a film about the whole process - from the technical details of the solar panels to everything else - so that others can learn and recreate what we are doing.”“We are making a film about the whole process - from the technical details of the solar panels to everything else - so that others can learn and recreate what we are doing.”

Residents involved in the power station project (credit: Power)Residents involved in the power station project (credit: Power)

As artists and filmmakers, Dan and Hilary are keen to highlight “the power art can have on infrastructure and change” and the role of “storytelling in making a difference”. As artists and filmmakers, Dan and Hilary are keen to highlight “the power art can have on infrastructure and change” and the role of “storytelling in making a difference”. 

In addition to selling Greenbacks, the pair also offer memberships - both free and paid - to project Power on their website, which they hope will allow them to “share technical knowledge” to help people set up similar projects “while also sustaining” their own goal.In addition to selling Greenbacks, the pair also offer memberships - both free and paid - to project Power on their website, which they hope will allow them to “share technical knowledge” to help people set up similar projects “while also sustaining” their own goal.

The Greenback notes are decorated with people from local charities and nonprofits, including youth club Project Zero, food co-op Organic Lea, PL84U-Al Suffa foodbank and Waltham Forest Migrant Action. The Greenback notes are decorated with people from local charities and nonprofits, including youth club Project Zero, food co-op Organic Lea, PL84U-Al Suffa foodbank and Waltham Forest Migrant Action. 

While previously their printing press operated out of the gallery space at 1B Coppermill Lane, they have now continued printing money from their own home.While previously their printing press operated out of the gallery space at 1B Coppermill Lane, they have now continued printing money from their own home.

Find out more about the project and how to support them on their websiteFind out more about the project and how to support them on their website