The fronts or heads of the coins in our pockets and purses show a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen.
The reverse, or tails, tend to be much more interesting, such as the £2 coin’s series of concentric circles telling the story of technological development from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution.
It is the reverse designs on ancient coins that have inspired the latest series of work from Pode Hole artist Adrian Fordham.
Called The Colour of Money, half of the work sold part-way through Adrian’s exhibition in his old hometown, the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington.
Adrian (73) took up art again seriously later in life, after studying with John Gray at Riverbank Studios in Spalding. At retirement, his cabinet making and antique furniture restoration workshop at his Bourne Road home was turned into a studio.
It was the view from the window in his studio that turned a boyhood interest in coins into something far more fanciful.
Adrian says: “When I looked out of my studio window at the fields after the corn had been cut I could visualise the coins travelling underground for thousands of years. Once they come out of the ground they gather their power again. They are powerful looking objects, although they are very small.”
His powerful paintings in oils reflect some of the images he has found on ancient coins, particularly the abstract images on the reverse side of Celtic money.
In Adrian’s work, stylised horses are depicted in fabulous colours, rather than the plain gold, silver and bronze of the originals, with canvases varying from 20 inches to four feet in size.
Coins depicting warriors, gods and goddesses on horseback, from ancient Greece and Rome, the British Isles, India, Afghanistan and across Europe have all provided inspiration.
Adrian says: “I am intrigued by horse and rider coins from ancient Greece and Rome through to the British rocking horse crown issued in 1935.
“I grew up in Teddington and the source of my inspiration for this exhibition goes back to that time when, as a boy, I started searching for coins and interesting artefacts in local antique and junk shops.
“The coins have been re-interpreted in a way that I hope will encourage people to see the objects we take for granted differently.”
Adrian says the two-week exhibition in Teddington was not done for “monetary purposes”, but because he wanted to share the art with a wider audience.
He says: “Things that are different attract my attention. It has to have a story and if there is someone looking at the work I do explain it to them.”