Call for new stamps in remembrance of Iraq heroes

  • 30 October 2008

With the release of the Lest We Forget stamps on 6 November, ahead of Remembrance Sunday, The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity, is calling on Royal Mail to issue official war artist Steve McQueen's commemorative stamp design. The stamps feature portraits of service men and women killed in the conflict in Iraq. In a survey of the British public seven out of 10 said they would buy the stamps (1) and nearly 14,000 have signed the petition at www.artfund.org/queenandcountry

Diane Douglas, mother of Lance Corporal Allan Douglas who served in The Highlanders and who died on 30 January 2006 aged 23, said: “We still think about Allan everyday and wonder what he would look like. He’d be so grown up now. It would be an honour to see his face on a real stamp and have him remembered in this way. It would also allow people to realise the ultimate sacrifice all these young men and women have made for their country.”

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, said:  “Many who have lost relatives serving in the British Armed Forces in Iraq are hanging onto the hope that one day soon their loved one’s portrait may appear on a commemorative stamp.  Queen and Country is a very touching but powerful reminder of their sacrifice.  I very much hope that Royal Mail will recognise the growing strength of support for this campaign and reconsider their refusal to issue stamps based on Steve McQueen's designs.”

The Art Fund, which gave Queen and Country to the Imperial War Museum in November 2007, is spearheading the campaign to gain public support for the project and is calling on members of the public to sign the online petition asking Royal Mail to publish the stamps at www.artfund.org/queenandcountry

The work of art, entitled, Queen and Country was created by Turner prize winning artist Steve McQueen in collaboration with 136 families whose loved ones have lost their lives in Iraq. 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. Until the stamps are officially issued by Royal Mail the artist considers Queen and Country to be incomplete.

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 is released in the UK on 31 October. He has been selected to represent Britain at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. ICM interviewed a random sample of 2082 adults aged 18+ via online between 11th -13th January 2008.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.  ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk

2. In another survey of military viewers based overseas conducted by British Forces Broadcasting Service 92% of British troops currently in service across the world are also in support of the stamps.

3. To sign The Art Fund petition, please visit www.artfund.org/queenandcountry

4. Steve McQueen was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum and Manchester International Festival to respond to the conflict in Iraq.

5. 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.

6. 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. 

7. 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.

8. 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.

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