Essex artist paints famous UK landmarks on coins to show ‘beauty’ of miniature

Essex artist paints famous UK landmarks on coins to show ‘beauty’ of miniature
Some of the coins painted by Yvonne Jack (Yvonne Jack/PA)

An Essex-based artist has painted scenes of famous British landmarks to the Mona Lisa on coins to showcase the “beauty” of miniature.

Yvonne Jack was exhibiting a mixture of art pieces at a pop-up gallery in Southend-on-Sea in March 2022, which soon led to her dabbling in painting on pre-decimal coins – coins struck before the change to decimal coinage in 1971.

“The woman that ran the pop-up gallery was doing an exhibition at the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the new city of Southend-on-Sea and she said, ‘I’ve got these old coins, can you paint something on them for this exhibition?'” the 48-year-old who is based in Thundersley, Essex, told the PA news agency.

Eiffel Tower painted on a coinThe Eiffel Tower painted on a coin (Yvonne Jack/PA)

“I did four coins for her and she took them and said loads of people really loved them and then it just became a bit of a challenge to see what else I could fit on this really tiny space.”

So far, Ms Jack has completed more than 50 paintings, which take a few hours to complete.

These include Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, as well as famous buildings including The Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Painted coinsMs Jack has replicated famous paintings on coins (Yvonne Jack/PA)

The process begins with her painting each coin white to get a base and sticking it to a table with Blue Tack to prevent it from moving.

“Then I start off with painting a very rough outline using very, very tiny brushes and go from there,” she explained.

“It’s a very enjoyable process, the discipline of painting that small.”

She posts her work to TikTok and Instagram and draws inspiration from followers’ suggestions or places she has visited.

Woman holding coin upA Mullion Cove coin at Mullion Cave in Cornwall (Yvonne Jack/PA)

“There’s one of Mullion Cove – I painted it at home and took it with me (when I went on holiday there) and held it up,” she said.

“That’s the beauty of these coins and with all miniature paintings, they’re portable, you can take them with you.”

She said while she has loved working on all the coins, she has a particular fondness for one of Flatford Mill in Suffolk.

“When I was a child, my mum had this painting of it on our lounge wall and when I look at it, it just takes you back there,” she added.

Woman holding up coinMs Jack’s first painted coin featured Darth Vader (PA)

The first coin she painted has Darth Vader from Star Wars on one side and Yoda on the other and she said she has learned a lot since then, particularly not to put Epoxy Resin on the miniature canvas as it makes them “yellow and a bit bumpy”.

She added: “I always paint better when it’s a subject I enjoy and there have been some that have been horrendous, but I think that is the case with everything.”

She said the most popular comment she gets from social media followers is ‘oh my God, how can you do that?’

Coin in a caseTower Bridge on a coin (Yvonne Jack/PA)

She added patience and a good pair of reading glasses are key as just one wrong stroke can ruin the whole piece.

“There have been plenty of times when I have just ended up scraping the whole lot off and starting again,” she said.

Coin in caseSt Paul’s Cathedral on a coin (Yvonne Jack/PA)

One of her highlights from the project has been showcasing four of her coins, including the Houses of Parliament one, at the Royal Miniature Society Annual Exhibition, which ran from June to July 2023 at Bankside Gallery, London.

“I’d never realised there were things like the Royal Miniature Society and just to meet these like-minded people who loved miniature was great and it spurs you on to go home and make things that are even more detailed,” she said.

Houses of Parliament painted on coinA coin featuring the Houses of Parliament (Yvonne Jack/PA)

This year, she hopes five more of her coins will make an appearance.

“The deadline for this year’s exhibition is April 29,” she said.

“I’m going to enter the Mona Lisa, (Joseph Mallord William) Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, Tate St Ives and a pocket-size The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.

“For the fifth one, I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet but I’m thinking possibly a portrait of someone.”

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