One of the aims of BAMS is to encourage an appreciation of the art of the medal through a variety of educational projects. Various members of the society have utilised techniques to create workshops that are suitable for a wide age range. These have been held in many schools, junior and senior, and in venues such as the British Museum and National Gallery. More advanced work has been undertaken for colleges such as the Royal College of Art and a major initiative, the Student Medal Project, was established in 1993.
The Student Medal Project encourages and promotes the art of making medals throughout art colleges in the United Kingdom. Each year over one hundred student medals, from as many as fifteen art colleges, are submitted for judging for prizes and selection for exhibition. The Royal Mint and the Worshipful Company of Founders are among the institutions that support the project, and the British Museum sometimes purchases particularly meritorious student medals. It is a wonderful forum for students to view the work made by their contemporaries, to join them at the annual conference, and to participate in an international project. Each year an academy from outside the UK is invited to take part. As an introduction to bronze casting, the project is perfect for the college curriculum. The Society often provides a speaker to introduce it in the first year. It is particularly geared to sculpture students and those studying metalwork and jewellery, but is open to other disciplines as well. A catalogue is published, which includes entries for everyone who participates and stands as a record for those at the start of their artistic careers.
Student Medal ProjectClick here for an an illustrated introduction to bronze casting.
New Medallist Scheme
The society's ‘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.
The scheme is administered by the British Art Medal Society (BAMS) and is funded principally by the Brian Mercer Charitable Trust. It is supported by the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Mint.
Each year one artist who will have left art college (at whatever level) within 3.5 years of the commencement of their participation in the scheme is chosen as 'New Medallist', and is awarded:
- A grant of £3,500;
- A place in a medal-making course at a college abroad or an international medal workshop, allowing him/her to participate for at least three weeks in a contemporary medal-making environment and thereby gain a greater understanding of contemporary thinking on medals;
- Regular mentoring sessions with an experienced UK-based medal-maker appointed by BAMS;
- One week's work experience in the engraving department of the Royal Mint, where s/he will work alongside experienced medal-makers and be given the opportunity to experiment with various techniques including the use of computer-aided graphics;
- Access for one week to the medal collections of the British Museum and/or Victoria and Albert Museum under the supervision of a curator of medals, enabling him/her to gain a greater understanding of the medallic tradition by studying historical medals from the Italian Renaissance to the twenty-first century;
- Free membership of BAMS for one year; and free attendance at a BAMS conference.
BAMS artist members also organise projects for other institutions. Workshops with a medallic twist organised by one BAMS artist member for the Education Department of the National Gallery have included 'A Little Light Relief' and 'Casting a Glance'. Both these workshops were part of the family programme, in which up to one hundred people can attend a free event, lasting for two hours. There are two workshops a day and the projects run for a week. In these workshops, family groups arrive to be welcomed to the gallery and meet the artist, a freelance lecturer and assistants. They then go to see the artist’s work in the education gallery and find out about that work, the workshop and how it relates to a specific painting in the collection. The families are taken into the gallery to look at a painting chosen by the artist and to be involved in finding out more about it by discussing the painting with the freelance lecturer. The artist introduces a drawing brief by looking at the painting, and everyone is encouraged to make drawings and gather visual ideas in front of the painting in the gallery. Drawing in the gallery forms a fundamental part in the formation of ideas to work with in these workshops. Back in the workshops within the education rooms one hundred medals are made after a practical demonstration. Simple!
'The Art of the Medal - A Self Portrait Medal Project for Schools' is now available and details of this and artists available to run projects can be obtained by contacting BAMS.