Call for more recognition of British lives lost in Iraq
More than two thirds of the British public do not think enough is done to recognise the sacrifice made by UK troops who have lost their lives in Iraq, according to a survey revealed today Friday 7th March by The Art Fund, less than three weeks before the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
The charity is supporting official war artist, Steve McQueen, in his call for Royal Mail to issue the postage stamps he has created in his work ‘Queen and Country’, each dedicated to a member of the armed forces who has lost their life in Iraq. The Art Fund gave ‘Queen and Country’ to the Imperial War Museum in November 2007, and is urging the public to demonstrate their support for the issuing of the stamps and sign the petition at www.artfund.org/queenandcountry
According to the survey seven out of 10 Britons would like to see Royal Mail issue McQueen’s commemorative stamps. This is more popular amongst the British public as a way to demonstrate recognition of those troops who have lost their lives in Iraq than an additional public holiday or parades. Respondents also chose medals and a countrywide minute of silence as fitting ways to pay tribute to the 175 British service men and women killed since the conflict began in 2003. In another survey carried out by British Forces Broadcasting Service 92% of British troops currently in service across the world are also in support of the stamps (2).
David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said: “Through the everyday postage stamp Steve McQueen has found a deceptively simple but very moving way to express our complex feelings about war. I very much hope Royal Mail will recognise the strength of support for the issue of the stamps, coming as it does both from the relatives of those who have lost their lives in Iraq and from the wider British public.”
Steve McQueen said: “I’m encouraged to learn of the weight of support behind these stamps as it is my profound hope that these portraits will be issued as stamps and will in this way enter the lifeblood of the country. This work is particularly important and meaningful for me as it is a collaboration with the families of the deceased and potentially with the whole nation.”
Mr Roger Bacon, Father of Major Matthew James Bacon, Intelligence Corps, who died 11 September 2005 aged 34, said: “My wife and I have never doubted the support of the majority of the public and these surveys confirmed that. It is hugely important to us and other families that Steve McQueen’s ‘Queen and Country’ facsimile stamps are issued as real stamps by Royal Mail. Signing up to The Art Fund petition for the stamps would demonstrate the public’s real support for our troops and would honour the memory of all those heroes who gave their lives in Iraq.”
Turner prize winner Steve McQueen, in collaboration with 137 families whose loved ones lost their lives in Iraq, has produced a cabinet containing a series of facsimile postage sheets, each one dedicated to a deceased member of the armed forces. The work is entitled ‘Queen and Country’ and The Art Fund has presented this cabinet to the Imperial War Museum where it is on public display. But until real stamps are issued the work is incomplete.
Anyone wishing to join the appeal and sign the petition which will be presented to Royal Mail can visit www.artfund.org/queenandcountry. ‘Queen and Country’ is currently on display at the Imperial War Museum.