Mary Gillick, who modelled The Queen’s head for coins in 1953, will take centre stage in a unique display at the British Museum this summer.
In-room 3 of the Asahi Shimbun Displays, the exhibition will feature the life and work of sculptor Mary Gillick (1881-1965), who enjoyed a burst of fame in her seventies when she was invited to model The Queen’s head for UK coinage. Gillick’s portraits of The Queen would continue to appear on the coinage until decimalisation. The picture itself was worked on for several months from March to October 1952, with one sitting and close supervision by the Duke of Edinburgh. A cameo of Gillick’s royal portrait has been used on British commemorative stamps since 1966. Today, the original image still appears on the Maundy money given out by The Queen each Easter.
In celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, the exhibit will follow Gillick’s career from her training at the Royal College of Art, where she discovered Renaissance medals, through her skill-building in medallic art, to her 1953 royal success and beyond. Highlighted in the exhibit will be items presented to the British Museum by the artist’s family in 2005. Those items include medals created by Gillick from the 1910s to the 1950s, punches, plaster models and a set of large-scale plaster models of her portrait of The Queen.
Gillick was appointed OBE in the 1953 Coronation Honours.
The exhibit is scheduled to open on 2nd June and run until 31st July. Those wishing to visit are able to pre-book online. Standard admission is free, although a donation is recommended.