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A Kenyan-born artist has been picked to design the new British One-Pound (£1) coin that will enter circulation in the United Kingdom in 2023.
Speaking during a Royal College of Art’s (RCA) reception on Tuesday, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that Michael Armitage will design the new coin to mark its 40th anniversary year.
Sunak noted that Armitage’s new design will celebrate the “culture, creativity, and heritage and history” of the UK in the 21st century.
“I am delighted that Michael will lend his vision to the creation of this new £1-coin design in its 40th anniversary year. This coin will symbolize the rich tapestry of modern Britain and honor our deep heritage and history,” the Chancellor said.
Armitage said he was honored and privileged to be part of Britain’s coin-making history.
“It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Royal Mint on the design of the new £1 coin. 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,” he said.
Armitage will work together with Anne Jessopp, who is the CEO of the Royal Mint, a government-owned mint that produces coins for the United Kingdom.
“The £1 coin is a symbol of Britain that is recognized around the world. As such we are delighted to work with Michael Armitage to create a new design that celebrates the people of Britain and our diverse culture. It is the first new £1 design since 2017 and will combine our 1,100 years of craftsmanship, with cutting-edge design to champion modern Britain,” Jessopp said.
The new 12-sided one-pound coin will become the standard circulating pound coin and will include the current world-leading high-security features to protect against counterfeiting.
Armitage was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1984 to a Kikuyu mother and Yorkshireman and spent his childhood in Kenya before training as an artist in Britain.
He received his BA in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2007) and has a Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools, London (2010).
Armitage, who lives and works between London and Nairobi, was in January elected a Royal Academician in the category of by the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
First of all, I am of you young for earning this rare chance in life!
However, when I think of Britain’s past, culture, heritage etc, I can’t help but to think of brutal historical atrocities; colonialism, slavery, land grabbing, gold and gems illegal extraction, massacres, famines and the use of concentration camps by the British Empire.
Will that coin capture part of these?
GG: There is no civilization without a brutal past. Look at our own history in Kenya. Before the arrival of the British, Maasai people terrorized the Kikuyu and kamba through cattle raids and kidnapping women.The Luos subjugated the Suba into submission to a point that the Suba community is completely Luonized and the list goes on and on to include the brutality of the Ngoni in Southern Africa. In my own community we had slaves. Ask anyone from the Mountain region what "ngombo" means.
What, pray tell, does a Kenyan look like? The late John Keen, a person from North Eastern, a coastal mixed person, Nyanza, or the variety I see in central? Are there limits on height, color, hair texture and color, etc? Let me know.
Polygamous citizenship, oh what a wonderful position to be in. I love it.