Issue date: 25 June 2009
Medals of Dishonour British Museum, London 25 June to 27 September 2009
Print experts, Dr Peter Walters and Professor Stephen Hoskins, from the University of the West of England have helped to create a Medal called 'The Hutton Award' in collaboration with renowned artist Richard Hamilton that will be revealed at the Medals of Dishonour exhibition at the British Museum today.
Medals of Dishonour is an exhibition that features medals that condemn their subjects rather than celebrating important figures or heroic deeds. The Museum's collection of satirical and political medals from the 16th to the 20th centuries will be displayed alongside recent work by leading contemporary artists including Jake and Dinos Chapman, William Kentridge, Grayson Perry, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Richard Hamilton, Mona Hatoum, Ellen Gallagher, Langlands and Bell, Cornelia Parker, Michael Landy, Yun-Fei Ji, Steve Bell and Felicity Powell.
'The Hutton Award' is a two faced medal depicting Tony Blair on one side and Alistair Campbell on the obverse. The satirical potential of placing a pair of familiar faces in a different context recalls a seventeenth-century medal showing Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax as a devil and a fool.
The medal relates to the Hutton Inquiry, set up by the British government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the government scientist David Kelly in July 2003. Just eight days before he died, Kelly was named as the source for claims broadcast by the BBC that in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq earlier that year the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair had 'sexed up' a report on Iraq's military capability. In his report published January 2004, Lord Hutton strongly criticised the BBC, leading to the resignation of its chairman and director-general, but his exoneration of the government resulted in several newspapers describing the report as a 'whitewash'.
The researchers converted colour photographs into black and white tones representing the depth of relief. The tones were then transposed using Photoshop tools so that the white produced the highest relief - the tip of the nose - and black the background; bump map simulations of the three-dimensional object were rendered in Lightwave to check progress. A 3D printing process under development at the Centre for Fine Print Research produced regular wax relief trials and a master was milled to cast the edition.
Professor Hoskins said, “This commission confirms the regard in which the Centre for Fine Print Research is held and highlights the way that we are pushing the boundaries in 3D rapid prototyping techniques. It's great to work with Richard Hamilton who is such a well established contemporary artist and this reflects on the CFPR as being renowned for working at the cutting edge of digital technology.”
The medal was commissioned by the British Art Medal Trust, a registered charity dedicated to the making and study of medals from leading contemporary artists. The Trust has presented an example of each of the newly commissioned medals to the British Museum for its permanent collection.
For more information about the exhibition Medals of Dishonour see
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