Student success in British Art Medal Society Student Medal Project

We are delighted to share that four of our students had their work accepted for this year’s British Art Medal Society Student Medal Project, with first year BA (Hons) Carving: Woodcarving and Gilding student Jocelyn Trevena winning the Michael Robert Memorial Prize for her medal ‘Agatha’. This prize is awarded for ‘subtle portraiture, with details that reflect on earlier traditions of making, an edge that links the two sides, and a reverse with an effective change of scale’.

Dr Dora Thornton, Curator of the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection and one of the judges of this year’s prizes wrote in her introduction in the BAMS Student Medal Project Catalogue 2024:

“One medal that impressed me for its sense of taking its place in a long European tradition was by Jocelyn Trevena of City & Guilds of London Art School. This presents her take on the legend of Saint Agatha, with the agonised saint portrayed on one side and one of her breasts, cut off at her martyrdom, on the other. This medal could easily be placed alongside Italian Renaissance medals on similar themes in the way that it presented the story of an individual. It was no surprise that it should have won the Michael Roberts Memorial Prize.”

Jocelyn discussed her work and process: “My medal depicts Saint Agatha, who was martyred via the sexually violent act of having her breasts torn off after refusing the advances of a Roman prefect. I was fascinated by depictions of Agatha that were sexualised, her breasts often taking centre stage, while also idealising her as a virgin. I wanted to pose a question of how we respond to such a distant yet distinct tale of sexual violence, while also trying my best to do justice to Agatha. On one side of my medal, you hold Agatha in your hand, in her torment and unrelenting faith. On the other side, you hold Agatha’s severed breast.

The project was a very rewarding experience for me, and I learnt a lot about my burgeoning practice. This was my second ever relief model, and my first time working with wax, working in miniature, and my first time working with metal. Learning so much at once made me grow very attached to my medal and it’s subject, I’m so pleased it’s been a success, and hugely thankful for the opportunity.”

Three more of our undergraduate Carving students, Helen Aitchison, Thomas Stainer and Alec Stevens, also had their work accepted for the exhibition. Please read their Catalogue entries below.

Helen Aitchison (First Year BA (Hons) Carving: Architectural Stone), Conquer

‘The medal is a grounding object, something to hold at times of great anxiety to steady your heart. In turn, the medal will hold you; protected by its outer shell, you can conquer your fear and find the courage to carry on. As a psychotherapist, I understand that people use grounding objects, things we picked up and treasured as children. My intention is that this feels familiar in some way.’

Thomas Stainer (First Year BA (Hons) Carving: Architectural Stone), Same Old Story

‘This medal’s motif and aesthetic is based on the enduring theme of sibling rivalry, and pays homage to the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. It shows the figures Enkidu and Gilgamesh, who appear on the front, parallel with the biblical verses from the story of Cain and Abel on the reverse, thus exploring the associations with Christian and Islamic religions.’

Alec Stevens (BA (Hons) Carving: Woodcarving and Gilding), Meddling with History

Inspired by dystopian science fiction, such as 1984 and Metropolis, I’ve made a cautionary tale medal that warns of the dangers of Meddling with History when building future societies. As a contemporary sculptor, working within heritage locations, I am always curious as to how and what is represented throughout history. My medal sits within this curiosity of what artefacts survive.’

See information on all of our students’ entries on pages 25-27 of the Project Catalogue.

Sixteen colleges within the UK, joined by two guest academies, produced 106 medals for this year’s project. The exhibition is open at Birmingham School of Jewellery until Friday 26th April.


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