Singer-songwriter Laura Marling was awarded the Hay Festival Medal for Song last night (Thursday 2 June, 2016) before her sold out acoustic set on the festival’s main stage.
Her Hay Medal for Song celebrates the impact her writing and performing has had on the British music scene since her 2007 debut My Manic and I to 2015’s Short Movie.
Born in Hampshire, Marling’s contemporary folk music has earned her a global fan base. In 2011, she was named Best British Female at the Brit Awards and Best Solo Artist at the NME Awards, while three of her albums have been nominated for the Mercury Prize: Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008), I Speak Because I Can (2010), and Once I Was An Eagle (2013).
Created by Christopher Hamilton, a silversmith local to the festival site in Hay-on-Wye, the medals have been awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), drawing inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry.
The sterling silver medals are struck by hand, using the traditional 'drop hammer' method, engraved with an image of Athena’s owl and the recipient’s name. All the letter engraving (of winners' names and categories) is done entirely by hand by Birmingham engraver Peta Greenwood.
Each year four Hay Medals are awarded. On Sunday, Janine di Giovanni was awarded the Hay Medal for Prose; on Tuesday Gillian Clarke was awarded the Hay Medal for Poetry; and on Friday the recipient of the Hay Medal for Drama will be revealed. Last year’s winners included Germaine Greer (Medal for Education), Alan Bennett (Medal for Drama), Robert MacFarlane (Medal for Prose), and Chris Riddell (Medal for Illustration).
With over 600 events running until Sunday 5 June, the festival brings Nobel Prize winners, novelists, scientists, global leaders, historians, musicians and comedians together in discussions and celebrations, covering everything from literary landmarks - Shakespeare, Cervantes, Brontë and Dahl – to the EU referendum and US election.
The full programme is available to view at www.hayfestival.com/wales.
Highlights can be seen daily on BBC Arts online and via the Hay Festival Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Meanwhile, visit http://www.talkingaboutshakespeare.org/ to see Shakespeare highlights from Hay festivals around the world.