Tour of Queen and Country, McQueen's tribute to British soldiers killed in Iraq, ends with exhibition at National Portrait Gallery
- 18 March 2010
Queen and Country, Steve McQueen's response to his commission as Official War Artist for Iraq, goes on display at the National Portrait Gallery during the week that marks the 7th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. The four month display opens to the public on Saturday 20 March and closes on Sunday 18 July around the 1st anniversary of British troops withdrawing from Iraq. The display is the culmination of The Art Fund's UK tour of the artist's work commemorating British servicemen and women killed in Iraq.
The art installation consists of an oak cabinet containing facsimile postage sheets, each featuring the face of a fallen member of the Armed Forces, chosen by their family. As a work in progress, new additions to the work will be seen at the National Portrait Gallery for the first time, bringing the number now included to 160. The Art Fund bought Queen and Country outright for the Imperial War Museum’s collection in 2007. Steve McQueen was co-commissioned to produce the work in 2005 by Manchester International Festival and the Imperial War Museum.
The Art Fund has been campaigning on behalf of Steve McQueen and the families for the images to be issued as official postage stamps by Royal Mail, which it has so far refused to do.
A Queen and Country book published by the British Council is also being launched this week to coincide with the display at the National Portrait Gallery. As well as featuring the stamp images from the art work, the book includes an original poem by Nobel Prize winning Poet, Derek Walcott. The book will be available for purchase in the gallery bookshop at a special exhibition price of £22 or throughwww.cornerhouse.org.uk for £25.
Steve McQueen is also taking part in an Artist in Conversation with the Guardian’s Chief Art Critic, Adrian Searle at the gallery on Thursday 25 March. Tickets are available here.
Visitors to the National Portrait Gallery will have the opportunity to sign the petition for the stamps which to date has almost 22,000 signatories. The petition can also be signed online atwww.artfund.org/queenandcountry.