Ascendant Art Star Michael Armitage Will Design the U.K.’s New £1 Coin, Set to Debut in 2023

The redesign by a Kenyan-born artist is intended to symbolize modern Britain.

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, visits the RCA to meet students and announce Michael Armitage as the artist chosen to design the new £1 coin. Courtesy of the HM Treasury.
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, visits the RCA to meet students and announce Michael Armitage as the artist chosen to design the new £1 coin. Courtesy of the HM Treasury.

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced yesterday evening that artist Michael Armitage will design the next £1 coin, which enters circulation in early 2023. Sunak told the audience at a reception for the Royal College of Art’s recently opened Design and Innovation campus in Battersea that the new coin “will symbolize the rich tapestry of modern Britain and honor our deep heritage and history.”

The new design will appear on the reverse, or “tail,” side of the coin. It will mark the 40th anniversary of the modern £1 coin, which replaced the banknote in 1983. The 12-sided redesign, introduced in 2017, had new security features that will be kept with this updated version. 

Armitage said, “it is an honor to be part of the lineage of coin-making in the United Kingdom and I am grateful to the Chancellor and the selection panel for the opportunity to contribute to this history in considering what it is to be part of Great Britain today.”

The reverse of the 2017 new design of the £1 coin. Courtesy of The Royal Mint.

The reverse of the 2017 new design of the £1 coin. Courtesy of The Royal Mint.

“The £1 coin is a symbol of Britain that is recognized around the world,” said Anne Jessopp, chief executive of the Royal Mint, adding that the coin “will combine our 1,100 years of craftsmanship with cutting edge design to champion modern Britain.”

Armitage, who was born in Kenya and works between Nairobi and London, is known for his narrative paintings on Lubugo, a traditional Ugandan bark cloth. The works draw from historical events as well as contemporary culture and the artist’s own life. In January, Armitage was elected as a Royal Academician. 

Armitage was chosen by the Chancellor on the advice of an independent panel of four. Members included Eliza Gluckman, director of the Government Art Collection, chosen for her knowledge of contemporary art, and Kevin Clancy, director of the Royal Mint Museum, chosen for his experience in coin design. 


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