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Creating Discovery Medals for the 21st Century

In our Art Night ‘Aurora Australis’ blog post, we introduced our fantastic Creative Communities Network; a group of young people exploring Dundee Heritage Trust’s polar collection and how it can be connected to the array of local and global issues raised by climate change. Today, we’re catching up with another of their recent projects; a bronze pour on the quayside beside RRS Discovery, creating some very special Antarctic medals.

Photography with thanks to Ben Douglas.

Over the past few months, our Creative Communities Network (CCN) have been working closely with The Mobile Foundry to create bronze medals inspired by medals from Discovery’s Recognised polar Collection.

Of particular inspiration were two medals belonging to Thomas Whitfield, stoker on Discovery’s 1901-1904 Expedition, including his silver Polar Medal – introduced in 1904 to recognise the outstanding service in the Antarctic of the men of Captain Scott’s first expedition – and his silver Royal Geographical Society (RGS) medal.

Thomas Whitfield (DUNIH 432)
Detail of Whitfield's silver Polar Medal (DUNIH 430.2)

Instead of celebrating the recognition and glory of the men of Antarctic expeditions, the medals created by the CCN instead celebrate our natural environment; representing the animals and landscape of the Antarctic. The medals feature whales, penguins, the sea and ice!

Inspired by the wonder of Antarctic creatures large and small, the group carefully carved their designs into lino discs, which were then pressed into a sand mould, in preparation for pouring.

The CCN group were fortunate to be able to pour their medals on our quayside in the sunshine, set to the backdrop of Dundee’s magnificent Royal Research Ship Discovery, with the help of The Mobile Foundry, Beth, Rob and Chris.

(c) Ben Douglas Photography

Though this project is finished, our Creative Communities Network are still busy creating new artworks inspired by all things Polar and climate. Keep an eye out for more updates.

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