Painter Michael Armitage Tapped to Design £1 Coin Reflecting ‘Rich Tapestry of Modern Britain’


Michael Armitage, a painter whose work has been seen widely in Europe over the past few years, will design a new £1 coin, an edition of which will be released next year to mark the currency’s 40th anniversary.

U.K. chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the news at a reception on Tuesday evening held to mark the opening of the Royal College of Art’s revamped campus. He said that Armitage’s forthcoming design for the new coin “will symbolize the rich tapestry of modern Britain and honor our deep heritage and history.” The new mint is scheduled to circulate publicly in 2023.

Armitage, who was born in Kenya and works between Nairobi and London, has gained attention for his semi-autobiographical narrative paintings that draw on East African folklore. In recent years, his works have garnered attention on the international circuit, appearing in the main exhibition of the 2019 Venice Biennale in Italy. In 2020, Armitage’s work was the subject of an acclaimed solo exhibition at the Haus der Kunst, Munich, that traveled to the Royal Academy of Arts in 2021.

This January, he was selected as a member of the school’s prestigious artist group the Royal Academicians. Two months later, David Zwirner announced it would jointly represent Armitage with London’s White Cube. Zwirner plans to open a solo show of the 38-year-old artist’s work in New York in 2024.

Armitage was selected for the coin design following a recommendation to Sunak by a four-person independent panel that included Eliza Gluckman, director of the Government Art Collection, and Kevin Clancy, director of the Royal Mint Museum.