Biochemical Society Medal

Biochemical Society Centenary Medal 2010

Notes on this work

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See what you get if you practise, as Liberace used to say, pausing at the keyboard to flash his huge diamond ring at children gathered round the stage.

This is the Biochemical Society's highest honour made to celebrate its hundredth anniversary and much as I would like it to be mine as a result of spectacular research in Biochemistry I am here showing it off merely as designer.

It was Martin Kemp who suggested my name to the Society and Sheila Alink-Brunsdon who saw it through the usual controversies.

As soon as I spotted a translucent cabuchon of fossilised coral at a mineralogical shop in New York I felt that this would make a marvellous insert to enliven a medal that was more the size of a coaster than a coin. My thought was that this living organism had been transformed through long chemistry into its mirroring self in mineral form. The Very Intelligent Designer had scored once again in reflecting a structural complex that could be cosmic, miscroscopic, cellular or stellar in scale. It has become one of the endless pleasures of looking at pictures in Scientific American to guess whether they are of some event in space or some tiny happening in the world of the infinitely small, so similar do they seem in their patternings.

The hardest part of the operation was getting flat discs of the fossil coral which eventually came from far off in Surinam, via Tucson to the ever helpful Ammonite 2000 Ltd. in Pimlico Road. This took a long time to arrange but since the coral had been some millions of years in the making a few more weeks did not seem to matter much. Only 2mm thick they admit the light that reveals their delicate structure when the medal is held up. 

The medal is otherwise made of pure Brittania silver which has a lovely weight and feel, and the whole was expertly manufactured by Fattorini.

Studio Diary December 14th 2010