Ceramic Red Cross emblem with pelican motif. Object is in the shape of the Red Cross emblem with the pelican standing atop a shield with a further emblem in the centre. The pelican is shown pecking itself with droplets of blood beneath. This is a common image associated with blood donation. Piece is made from clay, hand painted and glazed. On the reverse the artist's initials, P.V. are stamped into the clay as well as a sticker with the following details: 'Kunst Keramiek Ter-Ignis Oostende.' There is also a metal hook to enable it to be attached to it's wooden display stand.
Pelican imagery is not unique to Belgium and is or has been used by a number of blood transfusion services including the Republic of Ireland and Estonia. In 1956, Belgium issued a series of stamps featuring the pelican to encourage people to give blood. When food was scarce, the pelican was believed to feed its young by pecking at itself for blood (in fact, the pelican has pouches in which its stores food) and thus became an appropriate symbol throughout history of self-sacrifice for good.
Associated Person and Role
Commissioned by: Belgian Red Cross
Designed by: Paul Vermeire (Belgian, b.1928, d.1974)