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CANADIAN COIN AND MEDAL ARTIST DORA DE PIDERY-HUNT (1913-2008)
The Globe and Mail ran an obituary October 4th of Dora de Pidery-Hunt. The Canadian coin and medal artist died recently at the age of 94. -EditorThe name may elude you, but her work is as familiar as the change that jingles in your pocket. Dora de Pidery-Hunt was the Hungarian-born artist who sculpted the image of a "mature" Queen Elizabeth that appeared on all our coins minted between 1990 and 2003. It was the first time a Canadian artist had ever been given such a commission.
Ms. de Pidery-Hunt also designed and moulded hundreds of art medals, beginning with the Canada Council Medal in 1961. Our foremost medallic artist, she created commemorative pieces for Canada's Centennial in 1967, Expo 70 in Osaka, the Montreal Olympics in 1976, the CBC's Reach for the Top program, organizations such as the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Zoo, and symbolic events such as the 300th anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Co. and the portrait medallion of Dr. Norman Bethune that prime minister Pierre Trudeau presented to Mao Zedong in China in 1973.
A founding member of the Medallic Art Society of Canada (MASC), she was also the first (1963) - and for many years the only - Canadian delegate to the Fidiration Internationale de la Midaille d'Art (FIDEM), the International Art Medal Federation.
Medals are my favourite form of expression," Ms. de Pidery once said. "They are like short poems." She expanded on the idea by describing the lure of making a medal in a passage that appeared in Medals, a trilingual book about her work, with
"I have to accept the challenges of working inside the limits of a small disc and obeying the strict rules of the striking, casting and finishing processes. But the clay is soft and it yields pleasantly, almost too easily to the touch of my fingers. Maybe, after all, these limitations are necessary. I welcome these odds - my medals are the result of a good fight against them - and at the end at least I can look back on a bravely fought battle."Besides being an artist, Ms. de Pidery-Hunt was also a passionate advocate for her art form. In this role, she described the "magic" of owning a medal.
"Clasp it in your fist, let your warmth enter the cold metal and then take it to the window. Watch it: The light hits some edges, hidden crevices appear, there are some mounds you had not even seen before. Feel the tension of the surface, There is life underneath. It is not a cold piece of metal any more: Trees grow here, bodies leap high, faces emerge. All of this is brought about by you, and only you can arrest this magic moment or change it at any time with a light flick of your fingers."
To read the complete article, see: Sculptor who loved making medals put the Queen on Canada's coinage (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story
The article reveals her fascinating life story, which includes leaving her native Hungary after the Nazi invasion and vacating Dresden just one day before the devastating Allied bombings.
Terry Murray of Toronto wrote about Dora ("the mother of Canadian medals") in her October 9th blog. -Editor
That's Dora in the picture above in March 2003 when she was presented with the J. Sanford Saltus Award for Signal Achievement in the Art of the Medal by the American Numismatic Society (ANS). (She is flanked by Stephen Scher on the left, who endowed a lecture that is presented every year in conjunction with the Saltus Award presentation, and Robert Wilson Hoge on the right, the ANS's Curator of North American Coins and Currency.)
The Saltus Award citation called Dora "one of the foremost, and most prolific, medallic sculptors of the 20th and now of the 21st centuries," "a premier artist of Canada" and "Canada's grande dame of medallic sculpture."
To read the complete article, see: Dora de Pidery-Hunt, 1913-2008 (http://terrymurray.blogspot.com/2008/10/
Wayne Homren, Editor
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