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Medal - Knowledge and Inspiration
  • Knowledge and Inspiration
    Powell, Felicity, born 1961 - died 2015
  • Enlarge image

Knowledge and Inspiration

  • Object:

    Medal

  • Place of origin:

    London (designed)
    Britain (made)
    Birmingham (struck)

  • Date:

    2009 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Powell, Felicity, born 1961 - died 2015 (designer)
    Fattorini, Thomas Ltd (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Struck sterling silver

  • Museum number:

    A.38-2009

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR14

This medal commemorates the opening of the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V&A in December 2009.

The medal encapsulates the mission of the Victoria and Albert Museum, to promote knowledge and offer inspiration, as inscribed to either side of the Museum's main entrance. As such, it also echoes the thinking behind the new galleries. It reflects the statement by J. C. Robinson, first curator of the South Kensington Museum (now V&A), that knowledge gained from the Museum will not inhibit but inspire originality for 'he who knows most will be the most original'. On the obverse of the medal is the tree of knowledge and of life, while the flash of lightning on the reverse symbolises inspiration.

The commemorative function of this medal, its iconography, the artist's methods of creation as well as the aesthetic and philosophical qualities of this object reflect the Renaissance practice of medal-making.

Physical description

The medal is struck in sterling silver, with a dark oxidised finish and silver outer collar edge.

Place of Origin

London (designed)
Britain (made)
Birmingham (struck)

Date

2009 (made)

Artist/maker

Powell, Felicity, born 1961 - died 2015 (designer)
Fattorini, Thomas Ltd (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Struck sterling silver

Marks and inscriptions

KNOWLEDGE / V&A MMIX
Obverse

INSPIRATION
Reverse

"This medal by Felicity Powell has been struck in silver by Thomas Fattorini Ltd to commemorate the opening of the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries in December 2009
'Knowledge and Inspiration' is the medal's theme, taken from the inscriptions to either side of the main entrance. It reflects J C Robinson's 1853 statement that knowledge gained from the Museum will not inhibit but inspire originality for

'he who knows most will be the most original'

In the spirit of a sixteenth-century medal Powell's serpent, evoking wisdom (and temptation), winds round the tree of knowledge (and of life) while a flash of lightning (inspiration) illuminates (and is absorbed by) the open sea'.
On the leaflet enclosed in each medal's case.

Dimensions

Diameter: 55 mm

Object history note

This medal was commissioned by V&A director Mark Jones to Felicity Powell in 2009 and struck by Thomas Fattorini Ltd.

Historical significance: The medal encapsulates the mission of the Victoria and Albert Museum, knowledge and inspiration, as inscribed on either side of the Museum’s main entrance. As such, it also echoes the thinking behind the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries.
The commemorative function of this medal, its iconography, the artist’s methods of creation (a wax model on mirror back echoeing the Renaissance production of wax models on slate) as well as the aesthetic and philosophical qualities of this object fittingly reflect the Renaissance practice of medal-making. It is closely related to the artist’s wax reliefs on mirror backs, as the reverse is taken from ‘Lightning on Sea’, a piece Felicity Powell exhibited at Domobaal gallery in 2009.

Felicity Powell (born 1961) creates small-scale sculpture, building on long established traditions to produce thoughtful objects with a distinctively poetic resonance. The formal qualities of the object, in the delicacy of the relief and resulting subtle effects of light and shadow, illustrate the artist’s commitment to the excellence of medal-making.

Historical context note

This fine medal commemorates the opening of the new Medieval and Renaissance galleries at the V&A on 2 December 2009. It was commissioned by the Museum from the artist in a limited edition of 80, its primary function being to serve as a gift to major donors to the project.
One of these 80 medals is in the British Museum.

Descriptive line

Medal, sterling silver struck, commemorating the opening of the V&A's Medieval and Renaissance Galleries on 2 December 2009, by Felicity Powell, produced by Thomas Fattorini Ltd, Britain, 2009

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

'News' in The Medal, 56, Spring 2010, p. 65
Vandenbrouck-Przybylski, Melanie, "Two new medals for the V&A", in: The Medal, 58 (Spring 2011), pp. 30-38

Labels and date

Struck to commemorate the opening of the new Medieval & Renaissance galleries, this medal encapsulates the mission of the V&A: to educate and inspire. On the obverse, the serpent of wisdom and temptation embraces the tree of knowledge. On the reverse, a flash of lightning, piercing a cloud, evokes inspiration. [August 2010]

Production Note

Attribution note: Limited edition of 80

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Struck

Subjects depicted

Tree; Inspiration; Book; Foliage; Sea; Serpent; Knowledge; Lightning; Cloud

Categories

Sculpture; Coins & Medals

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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