The 2021 Remembrance Day coin features a reverse design created by the sculptor Gary Breeze, whose work appears throughout the United Kingdom. Notable pieces include the Princess of Wales memorial at Althorp, the Imperial War Museum, London, the New Scottish Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Victoria and Albert Museum. More recent commissions include the lettering and carving to the tomb of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral.
Gary Breeze’s work has won a number of prestigious awards, including the first Jerwood Contemporary Makers prize in 2008 – the same year in which he won the prestigious Leverhulme Trust award for a 12-month residency at the University of Southampton’s Department of Archaeology. He was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to tell us more about the inspiration behind this particular design.
What other coins have you worked on?
“I’ve been collaborating with The Royal Mint for a number of years now. My previous designs include: the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary 50p, a £2 commemorating the 350th anniversary of Samuel Pepys’ last diary entry, a three-coin set celebrating the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s most famous voyage of discovery, and more recently a design for the five-ounce and kilo editions of a special coin celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s 95th birthday. As you can imagine, that was quite an honour!”
How does this coin differ from your previous designs?
“The Remembrance Day coin is different because it contains coloured elements which encourage an approach to the image of the poppies that’s similar to painting. This required an extra layer of artwork that most standard styles of coin don’t include. Also, the lettering has a unique quality because I chose a carved style in a form that resembles the kind of inscription you’d find on a war memorial.”
What challenges did you face?
As mentioned earlier, the use of colour presented a few stylistic considerations, but the main challenge was the gravitas of the subject matter. I wanted to create a design worthy of such a poignant occasion. One that would honour the fallen but also pay tribute to the courage of the men and women who serve today. I hope I’ve managed to achieve that with my design.”
What was your inspiration behind this design?
“Back in 2015 I produced a commemorative stamp for the Royal Mail, which featured the same lines from the poem ‘For The Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon; I have always found them incredibly moving. There is perhaps no greater sadness than that which is felt on waking up and this is expressed so economically in just a single sentence. I wanted the inscription on the coin to be incised, just like the lettering on a war memorial, and I used a style of lettering inspired by the period between the wars.”