Student Success in British Art Medal Project

21 April 2021

Three students from the University’s BA (Hons) Fine Art degree have been awarded prizes in the prestigious British Art Medal Society’s Student Medal Project 2021.

The Student Medal Project was set up by the British Art Medal Society to promote the art of the medal in UK arts universities and colleges. Following their success in the 2020 project, the students from BA (Hons) Fine Art were invited to submit again to BAMS 2021, overcoming the significant challenges presented by lockdown restrictions to take home three awards.

Second year student Elliot Birt won The Herbie, a prize given for the best political medal, for his work Return Everything. He explains the inspiration behind his submission: “The inspiration for the medal came after I realised a link between the suggested theme (that of BAM, Black Art Matters) and a book that I had been reading about the Benin Bronzes, colonial violence and cultural restitution. The medal is a direct plea to the British Museum to return objects that were looted during Britain’s colonial era. My medal focuses on the notion of ‘transition’, the mode of moving from one state or condition to another and uses the medal to serve as ‘speaker’ for the object it was based upon, stating clearly that “If found please return to: Benin National Museum, Benin City, Nigeria”.

Image: Front and back detail of Return Everything by Elliot Birt

Tom Wilson’s medal Marks of the Land won the Kate Harrison prize, giving him the opportunity to visit a professional studio to learn more about medal making. He said: “Materiality and craftsmanship is a core part of my practice and making this medal has been a wonderful experience, by allowing me to develop practical skills such as mould making, wax working and playing with ways of finishing the cast medal.”

Image: Prize winning Marks of the Land by Tom Wilson

Nicola Garvey was awarded a Merit for her medal Sweet Dreams, an asymmetric bronze medal with a pillow-like form. She describes her experience: “The medal making process has been a wonderful experience, giving credence by using age old methods and materials, teaching patience throughout all the stages from conception to materialisation, to create something permanent in an impermanent world.”

Image: Sweet Dreams, 2021 by Nicola Garvey

Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Fine Art, Liadin Cooke said: “The mixture of online and face to face teaching was challenging, but ultimately worked in the end. The student experience of doing much of the work at home in their bedrooms, though difficult, did enable them to be more self-motivated and take charge of their practice, giving them a greater understanding of how to organise their time and workspace as practicing artists. This year the students embraced the competition with, if anything, more gusto. We are all delighted by their success”

Marcy Leavitt Bourne, Director at BAMS said: “The 28th British Art Medal Society Student Medal Project announced its winners on 10th April 2021, after a hard year of lockdowns and difficulties at the art colleges all over the UK. Nevertheless, 14 UK colleges, plus 1 from Bulgaria, participated, creating one of the most accomplished results the judges have seen.”

The Student Medal Project is supported by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, the Worshipful Company of Founders - which gives the Grand First Prize of £1000 - and the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers; Thomas Fattorini Ltd gives the Grand Second Prize of £500; The Worshipful Company of Cutlers, Pangolin Editions, G W Lunt and others provided further prizes for Design/Prototypes and cast medals. Several exhibitions are planned for 2021 if permitted, and the society are producing an online catalogue to be made available to the students who submitted.

See the full BAMS Student Medal Project Catalogue 2021 here.