A medal designed and crafted by an artist from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) has been purchased by the British Museum. The Exit Britannia medal, which is hand-sculpted and cast in bronze, raises questions about the Government’s handling of Brexit, and draws attention to issues including violence and social division.
Fred Wyver, a Technical Tutor from UCA Rochester, created the medal as an accompaniment to a student competition organised by the British Art Medal Society, and until recently, the piece has been displayed alongside a collection of work as part of the exhibition Holding Stories.
Fred says: “The medal’s powerful imagery invites discussion around the economic impact of Brexit, of nationalism’s role in structural social violence, of mental health provision, and of the slow fragmentation of the Conservative Party which might be a mirror of our society at large.”
In contrast to coins or military awards and decorations, art medals are intended to provoke a response from the audience and have been closely associated with political commentary throughout history. Usually, an art medal is a small, hand-held and double-faced object which is sculpted and cast in metal.
“Art medals are a fantastic medium to work in,” adds Fred. “It’s more like constructing an argument than making a sculpture – the dialogue between the front and back of the medal is a strong tool for getting your point across in a way that invites discussion. They’re also tremendously intimate objects; you’re obliged to hold them, to turn them over and manipulate them. They draw you in.”
Exit Britannia will join the British Museum’s permanent collection of medals, which includes a variety of artistic and satirical pieces.