Attempted theft of ‘£5 note’ casts grim spotlight on cost of living crisis

·2-min read

A cash-strapped art fan attempted to rip a five pound note from a gallery exhibit inspired by the cost of living crisis.

Artist Grace Clifford, 22, said she couldn’t “stop laughing” after a punter tried to pull the protruding note from her piece, titled “Fiver Glued to Floor Prank *Not Clickbait”.

She cast a the bill in concrete to highlight the “illusion” of financial stability and said her work came “full circle” after someone attempted to yank the money out.

The student said her 15kg artwork combines the “illusion” of financial security - which is “so close yet so far” - and the “comical” coincidence of finding money on the street.

And she was left in stitches when staff at the Art House gallery, in Wakefield, Yorks., told her someone had grabbed the wonga, leaving a section still wedged in the slab.

Grace didn’t know who had taken the cash, or their reason for doing it, but she feltthe mystery vandal had contributed to her thought-provoking piece.

She said: “It just made me laugh. If it had happened to another work, I would have been upset, but it being a five-pound note, it was inviting it.

“That’s what the piece is all about – how inviting that money is and how it could be taken away from you. So, the idea behind the work happened again.”

Artist Grace Clifford (David Lindsay / SWNS)
Artist Grace Clifford (David Lindsay / SWNS)

Grace, a fine arts student at Sheffield Hallam University, came up with the concept last year, before putting it on display with other pieces during an August exhibition.

She created the artwork by mixing cement into a slab and sticking the fiver out of the top, so that just half of the note would be visible to members of the public.

Grace explained: “The five-pound note that’s there, you can’t use that.

“Half the barcode is still inside the concrete, so the only way anyone would be able to use it would be to chisel it out.

“It was just that idea of finding money that’s important – that’s so close to you but it’s so far as well, and how cruel those jokes are, and not being able to grab it”

Grace, originally from Birmingham, said staff at the gallery had told her about the bizarre act of vandalism on Tuesday (9/8) last week.

But she said she wasn’t interested in reviewing CCTV footage, which has since been deleted, to find out the possible motive behind the strange theft.

She said: “There was CCTV, but I wouldn’t want to see it. I’m not interested in finding out who it was – I didn’t want it to be a witch hunt.

“I’m quite happy for it to be left like that, and the CCTV has gone now.

“And it asks more questions this way. Is it a statement, or was someone generally trying to take the fiver? It kind of makes it come full circle.”