Traces of Absence / Schroders

A collection of 19th and 20th century bond and share certificates from Schroders + treated brass and nickel silver
105 x 165 cm each (triptych)

Commissioned by Schroders, this work celebrates the history of a financial institution that has been in London for more than two centuries. Using traces of the past – documents ranging from 1864-1967, illustrating over a hundred years of the markets’ success, boom and bust – it is brought alive in the company’s boardroom. The elaborately bordered sheets of bond and share certificates, weighty in their lure of possible reward, are uncovered; opened after being deemed as no longer of any value. Their pictures – detailed drawings of a bridge, railway or gold mine – reveal the object of their investment, a history of projects that inspired endeavour and risk. Alongside each bond certificate are the payment coupons, exquisitely detailed miniature notes; unrecognisable to use now, these were once used to claim the gleaning from the half-year’s interest. Ranging from brown to blue to red, each colour is indicative of value – brown often the cheapest, red the richest – forming a rainbow of opportunity for those lucky enough to invest. Embossed with imprints, fingerprints and tax stamps, these were once working documents – a fluttering of dreams and hopes, the leaves of many livelihoods. A marbling of colour, with dark veins of commerce, venture and luck, these papers are the layers of a market over time; the building of businesses, the glint of gold flickering between.