Commemorative stamps artwork comes to Scotland

  • 2 November 2008

An artwork to commemorate British service men and women killed in Iraq, including many from Scotland, is being brought to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (SNGMA) in Edinburgh by The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity. Announced today (Sunday 2 November), ahead of Remembrance Sunday and the release of Royal Mail's Lest We Forget stamps on 6 November, Queen and Country will go on display from 3 December 2008 to 15 February 2009.

Created by official war artist and Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen, in collaboration with 136 families whose loved ones have lost their lives in Iraq, Queen and Country consists of a large oak cabinet with vertical drawers containing a series of facsimile postage stamp sheets. Each sheet is dedicated to a fallen member of the Armed Forces and features a photographic portrait chosen by their family. Until the stamps are officially issued by Royal Mail, McQueen considers Queen and Country incomplete.

Currently nine soldiers from Scotland feature in Queen and Country including Lance Corporal Allan Douglas who served in The Highlanders. He was killed on 30 January 2006 after coming under fire in the Maysan area in Basra. He was 23-years-old.

Diane Douglas, mother of Lance Corporal Allan Douglas, says: “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.”

The Art Fund is spearheading the campaign to gain public support for the project and visitors to SNGMA will be invited to sign The Art Fund’s online petition urging Royal Mail to issue the stamps at www.artfund.org/queenandcountry.  To date more than 14,000 have signed the petition and seven out of 10 people in Scotland would like to see Royal Mail issue McQueen’s commemorative stamps (1).

David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund, says: “Queen and Country is a beautiful and deceptively simple work of art that poignantly reminds us of the enormous sacrifices made by British men and women serving in the armed forces in Iraq. I’m delighted that The Art Fund is bringing Queen and Country to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and hope that many more people will have the opportunity to see the work and support the campaign.

“The new Lest We Forget stamps are a powerful reminder of the importance of this form of commemoration. I very much hope that Royal Mail will recognise the growing strength of support for The Art Fund’s campaign and reconsider their refusal to issue stamps based on Steve McQueen's designs.”

Dr. Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, says: “We are proud to be showing Queen and Country in Scotland, in recognition of those from across the British Isles who have lost their lives in the war in Iraq. A powerful reflection upon the human cost of war, the work is an original and moving memorial by one of Britain’s most consistently interesting artists. We are delighted to be working once again with The Art Fund, and are most grateful for their support in ensuring the widest possible access to art of the highest calibre.” 

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.

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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.       Steve McQueen was commissioned by The Imperial War Museum and Manchester International Festival to respond to the conflict in Iraq. 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. For details of the tour, and to sign The Art Fund petition, please visit www.artfund.org/queenandcountry

3.       The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; it 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