British Museum collections, £12.99
Diameter: 30.000 mm
Copyright Natasha Ratcliffe, 2004
Natasha Ratcliffe, The Black Spot, cast bronze medal
Falmouth, Britain, AD 2004
A comment on the power of the gun
This medal, entitled The Black Spot, comments on both the appeal and the destructive power of guns. On the front, the cartoon-like gun and the explosive word POW evoke a light-hearted world of cartoon-strips and fictional fighting, where guns cannot do real harm. On the edge of the medal are the letters ER, which expand the inscription to POWER but by themselves are expressive of hesitancy. Turning the medal completely, the word LESS is encountered: Pow has been transformed to Power, then to Powerless.
The medal is light in colour on the front but darker on the back. This represents the Black Spot - a bullet hole - that gives the piece its title and leaves the victim powerless, perhaps lifeless. This is the view from the other end of the gun.
The clever use of both sides and the edge of the medal demonstrate the form's potential for expressing ideas. Medals making political and social comment have been produced in Europe for many centuries and are now made by artists in many countries around the world. This tradition offers an alternative to the production of official medals which reward acts of bravery, often in the context of war and violence.
The artist Natasha Ratcliffe was in her final year at Falmouth College of Arts when she made this medal in 2004. The medal won a prize as the best satirical medal of the year from the British Art Medal Society and was subsequently purchased by the British Museum.
, Contemporary art medals: the B (London, 2004)
, The medal, 45 (2004)