Royal Mint strikes coin of artist’s White Horse dream

Wuon-Gean Ho with the coin she has designed for the Royal Mint

The coin

The Uffington white horse

First published in News
Last updated
The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

WUON-GEAN Ho will be laughing herself horse all the way to the bank this year.

The Oxford-born artist designed this equestrian-themed coin which celebrates the Chinese year of the horse in 2014, for the Royal Mint.

And she will be designing a new coin for each of the lunar animals of Chinese New Year over the next 12 years.

Miss Ho, 40, who grew up in Headington, said her design was inspired by family walks on the Uffington White Horse near Wantage.

She said: “The horse is supposed to be very dynamic with a lot of power and energy, so I wanted a lot of energy and movement.”

The design, she explained, brings together elements of her Asian heritage — her parents are Chinese – and her British upbringing.

The horse on the £2, £10 and £100 coins, which have a decorative frosted finish, is running from right to left, which to Asians is “forward”, as they read right to left.

But its head is facing right as a nod to the Western way.

She said: “I wanted to put both in, so the horse turns mid-way. Who knows how it will translate.”

The White Horse hill can be seen in the background.

The artist, who now lives in Whitechapel, London, is a trained vet. While she was at Oxford High School, her father, Mah-Soon Ho, ran a veterinary surgery on London Road, Headington, only retiring a few years ago.

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Her mother, Yook-Yen, left her job as a midwife at the John Radcliffe Hospital to help him run it.

Miss Ho studied veterinary medicine at Cambridge, but spent the whole time drawing animals.

She said: “I passed my exams but I drew all the lecturers and all the animals, so in a way I feel this commission is a really good job for my skills.”

The degree included three weeks’ lambing at a farm near the Welsh border, which will set her in good stead for her next design – 2015’s year of the sheep.

Miss Ho has two sisters, Feng Ho, who works as an ethical fashion designer in Abingdon, and Jaye who makes animations and works for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Miss Ho said: “I am really excited about this commission.

“I am not really too up on the whole lunar animal thing, but there is fun to be had reading moods into certain years.”

The one-ounce, fine silver Lunar Year of the Horse coin was published by the Royal Mint in November last year in advance of Chinese New Year on January 31.

They are available at http://royalmint.com/lunarcoins

See more of Miss Ho’s work at printplay.wordpress.com

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