The story behind our Medallions

15 Dec 2020

The story behind our Medallions featured image
Pictured: Designers and producers of the Churchill Fellowship medallions 1992 Fellow Wojciech Pietranik and Stan Tokarsk.

Churchill Fellow Wojciech Pietranik is a Polish artist and sculptor known for his masterful production of coins, medals and medallions, particularly the medals that he designed for the 2000 Olympic Games, held in Sydney Australia

Wojciech was awarded his Churchill Fellowship in 1992 to improve personal skills in bas-relief sculpture for coins and medals design. His Fellowship allowed him access to the prestigious School of Medallic Art in Rome, Italy.

At the time Wojciech was awarded his Fellowship he was working at The Royal Australian Mint as one of the professional designers responsible for medals and coins. His designs have featured on many Australian commemorative coins.

Wojciech was one of 18 artists to submit a design for the 2000 Sydney Olympic medals and was successful with his design that appeared on the gold, silver and bronze medals. There was considerable criticism surrounding the design as the International Olympic Committee wanted the Colosseum and a chariot rider represented, despite the Colosseum being in Rome not Athens where the Games originated. Wojciech amended the design but due to time constraints the Sydney Olympic Committee proceeded with the original design which comprised the traditional Goddess of Victory, Nike, holding a palm in her left hand and a winner’s crown in her right on the obverse, and the Sydney Opera House, the Olympic torch and the Olympic rings on the verse.

In the year 2000 the Trust decided to replace the formal certificate that was presented to Fellows upon completion of their Fellowship reports with something more meaningful. Wojciech, along with friend and former Royal Australian Mint colleague Stan Tokarski, designed and produced the Churchill Fellowship medallions that have now been presented to over 2,100 Fellows. The Fellow’s name and year of award is engraved on the rim of the medallion and is recognised as a fitting conclusion to the official component of the Fellowship experience.

Wojciech shares a studio in Queanbeyan, a small city in NSW situated next to Canberra, with 2002 Churchill Fellow and sculptor Berendina De Ruiter.  Wojciech has produced a vast array of contemporary and traditional sculptures in marble, limestone, basalt and bronze and has produced a number of medals depicting religious images.  He has been commissioned to produce public art pieces including a large bronze sculpture of Pope John Paul II which is situated at the Polish Catholic Centre in Narrabundah, ACT.

Berendina was awarded her Fellowship in 2002 to study stone carving and participate in workshops in Pietrasanta at Studio Sem in Carrara, Italy.  Berendina works in marble and stone to produce contemporary sculptures which reflect harmony and serenity.  Berendina has exhibited and been commissioned to produce sculptures in Australia, Netherlands and Germany.

Pictured below: Wojciech and Berendina’s studio.

Pictured: Fellows Berendina and Wojciech and their studio.