Medal design ideas – Single medal

I have been very much focused so far on the idea of having a series of medals, which interact or interlock in some way. However, I am beginning to have doubts as to whether this detracts from the over all strength of the piece? Would it not be better to have my message so clear and crystalised that it can be expressed very powerfully in a single medal? Does having it spread over a series give each medal a lesser impact?

blue flower medals

Again, while I am not set on the idea of flowers as a motif, it is currently the best form of imagery I have to work with as an example. Here we can see my continued ideas of embedding ceramic into a bronze medal, with the ceramic surface being painted delicately and detailed with blue cobalt glaze in the style of classic ceramic pieces, against the polished surface of the bronze as a background. This difference in material between the bronze and ceramic gives the opportunity for creating a very clear silhouette of the image. In these examples the silhouette is kept either the same, so that when the medal is turned over horizontally it remains the same, or reversed so that it clearly is the back side and lines up with the front image. While these silhouettes would remain the same as the original image (potentially reversed, but otherwise the same) the image painted inside this silhouette would then be different between the front and reverse sides. In this example, on one side the flower is in full bloom, while on the reverse the branch is covered with unopened buds and leaves instead.

This is one of the qualities of the medal which is not available in other mediums, the ability to mirror itself. The two sided quality allows for a very particular dynamic to be made, a parralel or an inherent link being made between the two images rather than them being seen as separate. In my opinion it is often medals which make use of this quality that are the strongest. It allows for a form of pacing, a rhythm, in the handling, the turning over, the obeserving. It is also interesting that it forces the user to remember the previous image. Rather than having two images laid next to one another which can both be observed at the same time, a medal only allows the viewer to experience one side at a time, forcing you to hold  the first image in your mind while you observe the reverse face.

front and reverse detail contrast

It occured to me in my previous sketches that I was making little to no use of the background, other than a backdrop for the main image. Again, the interplay between the two sides of the medal is very important in my opinion, and perhaps this can be achieved through use of the background contrasted against the image in the foreground. Not only this, it gives a good demonstration and contrast between the two sides of the medal, with the smooth painted ceramic and the bronze which can be sculpted in relief and patinated, giving a contrast of texture as well as colour. I feel that this has the potential to be very visually appealing. Not only this, but it allows the development of narrative to be formed between the two sides, with new aspects being unveiled on the reverse side which were not evident initially; a look ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. This is something I touched on in a previous post, looking at artists who use the two sides of the medal in tandem with each other in order to progress a narrative.

While I think in some ways, having a single medal can be a very powerful piece, and is usually the standard format of the medal, I still find myself drawn to the idea of a series or a set of medals. This was something which even came through in my work last year, making a pair of medals, and I think it is linked to my enjoyment of the rhythym of medalsl and wanting to extend this across a series. Not just picking one medal up, turning it over, but then picking up the next, and turning that over, and the next after that. The unfolding of new information in order to form a larger narrative, and this keeps the viewer engaged for longer and gives them a curiousity to find out more. It cannot simply be glanced at and taken in, it needs to be experienced and considered by the user. Not only this, but if I am looking to express the building and development of self, I do not think that this is something I can capture in a set of two (or potentially three, using the side) images. It is an all too complex topic, which encorporates many different stages and experiences in life, rather than reducing it to simply a “before and after” image. While I am sure that it is entirely possibly to represent this level of complexity in a single medal, I certainly feel that the series expresses it more clearly, as well as playing to my own personal interest in a set of medals.

It is looking at the moment that I will indeed progress with making a series of medals, however, as with everything in this project, it is still open to change.


One Comment on “Medal design ideas – Single medal”

  1. […] of ways, and would very heavily rely on the interplay between front and obverse sides as I have previously expressed is an important part of the medal design for me. Perhaps rather than having the subject, and loss, […]

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