Exclusive Interview with Tom Fitzgerald, Designer of Ireland’s 2013 John F. Kennedy Gold and Silver Coins | Silver Coins

Exclusive Interview with Tom Fitzgerald, Designer of Ireland’s 2013 John F. Kennedy Gold and Silver Coins

Tom FitzgeraldThroughout my pay a visit to to New Ross, County Wexford, and just right after the official launch ceremonies for the collector coins issued by the Central Bank of Ireland to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, I was in a position to sit down with the designer of the coins. The design was entrusted to nicely-known Irish Artist Tom Fitzgerald who has cultivated quite a name for himself as a sculptor and operating with oils and canvas. His coin style was inspired by some of President Kennedy’s most memorable photographs and photos produced at the height of his globe-wide reputation and the outcome is a starkly vivid and almost nostalgic depiction of the 35th American President – the first US head of state ever depicted on an Irish coin.

Born in County Limerick in 1939, Tom has continued to reside and work in his hometown. Following his research from 1965-69 at the Limerick school of Art, he held the position of head of sculpture there from 1976-2000. Fitzgerald has exhibited broadly in solo and group exhibitions in Ireland and abroad. In 2004, The Limerick City Gallery of Art and the Model Arts and Niland Gallery exhibited Fitzgerald’s solo exhibition. He has also held solo exhibitions at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin Butler Gallery, Kilkenny and the Rubicon Gallery, Dublin. Tom’s commissioned work is situated in Ireland and Germany. Public collections contain Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Irish museum of Modern day Art Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery, Dublin and Limerick City Gallery of Art.

As Tom now adds a commission of this set of collector coins from the Irish Central Bank to his wide ranging list of projects, we discussed in his only interview therefore far about his contribution to this project. We also touched on the inspiration for the style and eventual production of what may possibly become 1 of the more popular and sought-after coins issued in Ireland. Just 3 days just before the official launch, the initial and second strikes of the gold and silver coins were presented to the remaining members of the President’s instant loved ones, that of his daughter Caroline and his sister Jean during a reception in Dublin marking the historic anniversary.

MA: Congratulations on this historic commission, I believe the design is an exceptional depiction of the President, and I’d like to commence off by asking where did you locate your inspiration for this depiction which is noticed on the coins?

TF: I did spend a lot of time looking at photographs, film footage throughout Kennedy’s check out to Ireland and an array of photos of the President before deciding on 1 which I would base my own design and style. I actually thought that a front facing image would be the most recognizable depiction of the president, specially from that era and that is what I wanted to re-generate.

MA: With Kennedy’s image as seen on the new coin, the moment you see it, you know just who he is, he’s such a element of history now, and with your depiction, he virtually appears to be seeking in an upward direction, is this how you meant for him to look in this design and style and if so, why was that?

TF: Nicely, in the several pictures I viewed, the President seemed to be seeking up into the air – practically into the distance or the future and with my depiction, I tried to “hold” that image. The actual design and style method necessary a lot of measures in order to get that preferred look, it calls for going back and forth to the Bank’s design committee creating certain the proposed design was attainable to generate on the coin itself, elements of shade and definition had to be taken into consideration.

MA: I realize this was your very initial coin design and style..?

TF: Yes, I had submitted coin styles earlier to the Central Bank more than the years in succession but I wasn’t expecting this project, I was approached by the style committee and normally, I’m much more used to obtaining my proposed styles rejected… (smiles) This time about, I was supplied the commission and when you’re provided a commission for any art project, you have to fulfill it.


MA: Having your self seen the coin and hearing the reaction of these who see it, and I think much of the reaction is constructive, do you think your vision for the project was carried out  – that the production adequately re-created your work?

TF: There is always a little compromise I feel, I would have liked to have included other small information but all round, the image does have to be recognized, if the design and style is as well fussy or as well ambiguous then you have a problem with recognition and that was the most crucial element for this coin. Ordinarily for a coin, there is a profile so this front-facing depiction supplied some challenges but I believe the engravers indeed did a great job.

MA: I heard you oneself saw the President in Dublin during his go to, you must have been fairly young at the time, do you remember this day nicely?

TF: Yes, I was in the crowd, I was just 23 at the time and functioning for the Electrical energy Board – I didn’t truly like that operate so I gave it up in favor of art! I remember the motorcade, and of him waving to the crowd – correct on Dame Street and right where the Central Bank is right now even though that building wasn’t there at the time.

MA: This being your 1st completed coin design and style project and with knowledge and under your belt now are you prepared to take on an additional commission?

TF: My background is as you know more in sculpture, I also like creating extremely low-relief sculpture and coin design and style is in itself quite difficult. I think I choose to work with physical components. Coin style has to have a quite specific purpose and you operate in certain parameters. With the modest surface there is to function with on a coin, I was quite shocked by how considerably detail was incorporated on the strikes and just before this encounter, I knew practically nothing about the minting process.

MA: As some of my readers will notice, your last name is Fitzgerald, and I know the name is heard extremely often in Ireland but I’d like to ask do you know if there is any relation to the loved ones of the President with his mother Rose also being a Fitzgerald?

Not that I know of, I’m from Limerick, there are a lot of Fitzgerald’s nevertheless in the county and I can trace my family’s ancestry all the way back to the Norman occasions, to the 11th century. The President’s Fantastic Grandfather was also Thomas Fitzgerald but who knows, I suppose it is constantly possible…

MA: It would be a kind of full circle scenario if there was a family connection, Tom Fitzgerald, thank you so much for your time right now on the occasion of the official day of launch for the Kennedy 50th anniversary pay a visit to to Ireland coins – here where it all occurred, New Ross County Wexford.

Thank you!

My appreciation goes to the Coin &amp Currency Centre of the Central Bank of Ireland for their kind invitation and to the head of the Department Margaret Daly for all of her kind help on the day. The two coins, gold and silver examples are offered directly from the Central Bank of Ireland as a two-coin set and a single silver coin. Please check out their internet site at: http://www.centralbank.ie/paycurr/collector/Pages/Coinsets.aspx For a lot more data on Tom’s work, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photographs/tomfitzgeraldsculptor

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