Britain’s best "New Medallist" has won the rare
opportunity to spend one week at the Royal Mint perfecting her art and
transforming her creative conceptual ideas into tangible design
Claire Poulter, 26, of Essex, won the 2014 British Art Medal
Society (BAMS) New Medallist program, which aims to nurture a
new generation of contemporary British medalists.
annual initiative, now entering its 10th year, is organized by the
BAMS in association with the V&A Museum, the British
Museum, and the Royal Mint, and is supported by the Brian
Mercer Charitable Trust.
The New Medallist program
is designed to stimulate the field’s originality and provide artists
who are new to medal-making with the opportunity to develop their
interest, expand their knowledge and gain invaluable experience in
medal-making, in order to help them shape the future of British art
The winning artist of the New Medallist program
secures a place in a medal-making course at a college overseas, or an
international medal workshop, for at least three weeks to gain a
greater understanding of contemporary thinking on medals.
The artist then undertakes a one-week placement with the British
Museum or the V&A Museum, before finishing the final week of
residency in the engraving department of the Royal Mint. The aim of
this placement with the Mint is to allow the artist to work alongside
experienced medal-makers and have the opportunity to experiment with
various techniques, including the use of computer-aided reduction
Poulter graduated from the Ruskin School of
Drawing and Fine Art specializing in video on a BFA Fine Art before
completing an masters of art degree in sculpture at the Royal College
of Art last year.
As part of her masters of art course
Poulter was challenged with the task of casting an art medal in
bronze, and it was this piece that she ultimately submitted as part of
her portfolio application for the New Medallist program.
Poulter admits that she never thought she would win with the first
medal she ever made, but was thrilled to discover that she had been
selected to act as an ambassador for the BAMS program and have the
chance to work and develop her skills under the guidance of
“Making a medal presented me with a new medium
for transforming a concept into reality using little more than a
single mark made by a traditionally shaped tool and the relationship
that each face has to the other,” Poulter said. "To me, art
medals offer a contemporary means to express two opinions or show
different interpretations of an argument. ... I’ve found in my year
that the medal is a curious medium with a fascinating history and with
more diversity than one might initially think.”
Poulter said she spent eight weeks in Bulgaria last fall developing
her practical skills at the country's National Academy of Art.
Before commencing her work placement with the Royal Mint,
Poulter considered concepts for her next medal and how she could
utilize the cutting edge technology and the facilities at her disposal
to make this concept a reality.
“I have a work space in
London and occasional access to the foundry at the Royal College of
Art, so I have been able to continue my own projects and develop my
activities as an artist. There are a few things that I am making at
the moment, but the key piece I have been working on at The Royal Mint
is a representation of the world.”
She said the work is
based on an illustration she found online that indicates that the
world is spherical, but is depicted in a flat format.
"I like this juxtaposition and the idea of replicating it with a
medal,” Poulter said.
The Royal Mint’s product designer
and engraver Thomas Docherty was responsible for mentoring Poulter
during her placement with the 1,100-year-old Mint, which currently
designs and manufactures coins and medals for more than 60 different
“It has been our honor to support the New
Medallist scheme for the last seven years and have the opportunity to
work with the winners, helping them to progress their ideas and
develop their medal making abilities,” Docherty said. "Claire is
clearly a very talented artist with a flair and enthusiasm for
creating medals, and it was a pleasure to work with her for the week.
We look forward to seeing how her career as an artist
BAMS president Philip Attwood said: “Our
society was founded in 1982 to promote the art of the medal through
commissions from a wide range of artists, including internationally
recognized sculptors and recent art college graduates. The New
Medallist scheme is intended to provide a framework by which artists
based in Britain and Ireland who are relatively new to medal-making
can develop their interest in the medal as a vehicle of artistic
expression. Its aim is to deepen and broaden the selected artists'
knowledge of the medal and expand their awareness of the medium's
possibilities. Their work breathes new life into the centuries-old art
of the medal.
“We are very pleased to have worked with
The Royal Mint and had the support of their expert medal-makers and
engravers for the last eight years on this initiative. Each of our
winners has benefitted greatly from the time that they have spent with