The Art Fund brings Queen and Country to the Liverpool Biennial

  • 4 September 2008

The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, has brought Queen and Country to St George's Hall, where it is on display until 31 October 2008.

Commissioned by the Imperial War Museum and Manchester International Festival, Queen and Country was created by official war artist Steve McQueen in collaboration with 137 families whose loved ones have lost their lives in Iraq. Queen and Country commemorates their loss.

The work consists of a large oak cabinet with vertical drawers containing a series of facsimile postage sheets. Each sheet is dedicated to a member of the armed forces who has lost their life. One of the soldiers featured in the work is Corporal Ben Nowak, a Royal Marine from Speke in Liverpool. He died aged 27 in a bomb attack near Basra, Southern Iraq.

Until the stamps are officially issued by Royal Mail the artist considers Queen and Country to be incomplete. The Art Fund is spearheading the campaign to gain public support for the project and visitors to St George’s Hall are invited to sign The Art Fund’s online petition asking Royal Mail to publish the stamps.

Mr Michael McEvatt, Corporal Nowak’s uncle, is one of the 13,000 people who have so far signed the petition in support of the campaign.

He says: "The issuing of his stamp would be an acknowledgement of the ultimate sacrifice that Ben gave for his country. Seeing Queen and Country in Ben’s home town will be a very moving experience for his friends and family."

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, says: "We’re delighted that Queen and Country is on display as part of the Biennial. Steve McQueen has created a very simple but at the same time powerful work of art that forces us to think hard about war and its human cost. At a time when service men and women are risking their lives in Iraq – and elsewhere – it is particularly poignant. "

Steve McQueen was born in London in 1969. He won the Turner Prize in 1999 and was awarded an OBE in 2002. His first feature film Hunger won the Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year and he has been selected to represent Britain at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Media are invited to preview Queen and Country at St George’s Hall on Thursday 4 September at 10.00am. Mr Michael McEvatt will be available for interview and there will be opportunities to film and photograph the work. For more information, and to attend, please contact The Art Fund Press Office on 07912 777 761 or 020 7225 4888 / press @artfund.org

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For details of the tour, and to sign The Art Fund petition, please www.artfund.org/queenandcountry

2. Queen and Country is part of the Imperial War Museum’s permanent collection, following its presentation by The Art Fund in November 2007 with a full grant of £60,000.

3. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.

4. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.

5. Recent achievements include: helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; putting together a unique funding package to ensure Dumfries House in Ayrshire and its contents were secured intact for the nation in July 2007; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.

6. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit www.artfund.org