Gary Breeze is a sculptor working in stone and wood with major commissions found throughout the United Kingdom, including the Bali Bombing Memorial at Horse Guards Road, London and the Christ Church Cloister fountain in Oxford. Other notable work can be seen at the Scottish Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Chatsworth Gardens and The Victoria and Albert Museum as well as many universities and schools.
Gary continues to exhibit widely and was awarded the first Jerwood Contemporary Makers prize in 2008. That same year he won the prestigious Leverhulme Trust award for an artist residency at the University of Southampton department of Archaeology. This is his first coin for The Royal Mint.
In some ways the Battle of Britain appeals to our innate joy at winning against tremendous odds. I wanted to celebrate that in one sense. But I think that remembering the cost of war is more relevant today. I spent a good deal of time concentrating on the machines at first, but the aircraft didn't say enough about the sacrifice of life or the meaning of the Battle today. My workshop consists of a small design team, which includes my brother Lee Breeze – he thought of the idea of focusing on the people rather than the machines of war.
My original design incorporated the quotation from Churchill - "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". The Few seemed like a great point of focus for this, and the scrambling airmen, running with enthusiasm to their potential deaths to protect us is an evocative image.
Coming towards the men is a swarm of aircraft. I've always recalled my Grandfather talking of the skies being dark because there were so many bombers. I believe he was in fact talking about our own planes flying out, but I wanted to illustrate that threat and sense of danger.
I would like people to be reminded of the selfless sacrifice of the Few. The airmen run away from us. They don't walk slowly to their fate, and we may never see them again.”