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Local Artists Make Their Mark on South African National Coins

Six local designers have made their mark on South African history, designing new commemorative circulation coins and collector's coins


Celebrating 25 years of constitutional democracy, the South African Mint has released six new monetary coins. Designed by six local designers, each one addresses a theme relevant to our country. These include Environmental RIghts, Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion, Children's Rights, Right to Education and Let Us Live and Strive for Freedom. In addition, three collectable coins in gold, silver and bronze alloy form part of this release, called the SA25 campaign.

The fonts on these coins have also been specially designed by Durban-based graphic designer Garth Walker. 

Local Designers Coin | House and Leisure
Maaike Bakker, Lady Skollie, Neo Mahlangu,Peter Mammes.


Environmental Rights: Maaike Bakker 

The Environmental Rights R2 coin was designed by visual artist Maaike Bakker who specialises in drawing, scuplture and installations. She is also know for her work as a curator, illustrator and educator. Some of Bakker's work can be found at Kalashnikovv Gallery in Johannesburg. 

The reverse of the R2 coin showcases an illustration which represents the environment and features water, a fish, land with plants along with the sky, clouds and sun. Bakker's design aims to ehance the improtance of protecting the environment. 

South African Mint Managing Director Tumi Tsehlo comments on the significance of the coin: 'The coin is emblematic of our natural heritage and every time you receieve it as change, we hope you are encouraged to contribute towards saving the environment for future generations. I am very pleased that South Africans of all ages will be able to collect these coins as keepsakes, to serve as a reminder of their responsibility towards the environment.'

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Right to Education and Children's Rights: Neo Mahlangu

Joburg-based Neo Mahlangu is known for her work in fine art and digital design. Acclaimed for her work, she was listed as one of the Top 10 Young Gauteng creatives by 100% Design South Africa in 2018 and was a finalist for the Cassirer Welz Award in 2017. Her works foucses on inspiring self-reflectiion and introspection within human interaction. 

Her R2 coin features three internationally known symbols of learning and knowledge: a book, a cube with letters and numbers and a graduation cap. Her other commemorative R2 coin celebrates Children's Rights, depicting four smiling children of varying ages. 

Commenting on the importance of education, Mahlanga says, 'I wanted to create a design that could resonate with a mature adult pursuing studies as well as a child in preschool in equal measure. Education is such an empowering right that if used to its fullest capacity can have the possibility to unlock incredible opportunity.'

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Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion: Peter Mammes 

The R2 coin representing Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion, and the R50 coin titled We are the People (a collectable bronze alloy coin) were designed by Peter Mammes. He began drawing at a very young age and is known for his interest in the absurd and macabre. His work currently echoes how national identity and individuality intersect, and also deals with the suppression of what is considered 'ugly' or 'unacceptable' in society. 

The R2 coin is illustrated with raised hands, the sign-lanuage representation for religion, portraying a sense of unity regardless of gender, religion or age. 


Freedom of Movement and Residence: Rasty Knayles

As an artist who utilises graffiti and tattooing as his medium, Rasty Knayles stands out in the Johannesburg art scene. Having created some of the most iconic street murals in Johannesburg, he is a figurehead within the local creative scene. 

His R2 coin symbolises Freedom of Movement and Residence with images of an aeroplane, a bird clutching a key and a minibus taxi, set against the background of buildings. 

Let Us Live and Strive for Freedom: Lady Skollie 

The R5 coin labelled Let us Live and Strive for Freedom, and the collactable R50 Sterling-silver coin were commissioned to Lady Skollie, known to push boundaries and create discussions around taboo subjects such as sex, consent, violence and abuse - themes all displayed in her work. Using mostly ink, watercolour and crayon, her art has become her activism.

The R5 coin shows a mass of individuals waiting in line to place their vote, representing the freedoms of democracy, and where we as a country have come from politcally and socially. The accompanying words 'let us live and strive for freedom', a line from our national anthem, resonate with this democracy. 


The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Shaun Gaylard 

The collectable R500 24-carat gold coin named 'The Constitutional Court of South Africa' was conceived by Shaun Gaylard, a qualified architect known for his meticulous fine-line drawinings. His architectural drawings have featured in a number of South African magazines and exhibitions, as well as abroad.

His drawing of the Constitutional Court celebrates the coin campaign's 25 years of constitutional democracy. The illustration represents the authority of the building and the symbol it holds for a system of justice, one that ensures that human rights are not violated.