The Royal Mint’s flagship Britannia coin has made history for centuries, reimagined and re-evaluated by some of the greatest artists and engravers of each age. As we celebrate 350 years of Britannia on UK coins, the Italian artist and sculptor Sandra Deiana has created a timeless design for the exclusive editions in our Britannia 2022 UK coin range, which depicts not one, but three female figures on the reverse image for the first time.
Selected by The Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) to portray the three ages of woman in one design, the artist has created the relief for the coin in clay, rather than digitally, and has described the design as ‘the most difficult concept’ she has faced in her career – and one of her favourites.
You drew a lot as a child. Who inspired you?
“I grew up in Cagliari, Sardinia, and my older sister and I both had a passion for drawing. We spent our days indoors competing to do the best drawing, so my sister was my first guide. Then there was an elementary school teacher who understood that I was talented and, after that, many art history books, which I read and re-read enough to inspire me to continue along this path.”
What does it mean to work with The Royal Mint on a Britannia design?
“When I was told that my design had been selected, I was delighted to know that one of my designs would become a UK coin. It is truly an honour for me to be able to collaborate with The Royal Mint, which has a centuries-old history behind it and which has given the world internationally renowned coins such as the guinea and The Sovereign. Knowing that I have collaborated to create a piece of this story is truly incredible, and I hope to be up to it.
“When I started studying the brief, I immediately thought, ‘This is the most difficult concept I have ever faced!’ Britannia had been represented on coins, but no one had harmonised three female representations together, so this was the real challenge for me. I had to find a way to represent the Britannia icon in three different eras, through the three ages of woman. Of all my work, I particularly loved the Britannia theme, and I will always remain connected to it.”
What is your design process?
“For me, study is the key. Before starting a design, I can spend many days thinking and studying, designing only mentally. I don’t draw anything. Then, all of a sudden, when I have a composition in mind, I can unblock the flow and draw. From that moment on, I make the design in just one day, or even in a few hours. Of course, there is then a phase of adjustment and revision, working with The Royal Mint to harmonise my creativity with the Mint’s needs, which always deserve the utmost respect.
“I remember very well that I drew Britannia on 21 April, Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday. In the evening, I heard the news on the TV and I said to my boyfriend, ‘I wonder if I have just drawn the next coin for Her Majesty?’
“I create the relief with clay and then I make plaster moulds. I learned to do this whilst studying anatomy, sculpture and drawing. Recently, I have been embracing digital versions of my work and I am readapting my creative process completely. However, I do not want to abandon tradition, which will always be present in my work.”
Is there a coin or medal you would like to work on in the future?
“Beyond allegorical designs, I’d like to work on the fantasy theme and characters from the world of animation. I would love one day to be able to bring to life on coins my favourite characters from animated movies!”