Honouring the Dead - Or Not. MoD and Official War Artist


[align=center]Turner-prize winner's true portrait of war
By Ian Herbert
Published: 27 February 2007[/align]

It is an image of war that the Ministry of Defence never wanted to see published: an intimate family photograph of a British soldier killed in Iraq which, taken with nearly 100 others, forms the official portrait of the conflict by the Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen.

As the finished work, For Queen and Country, was unveiled in Manchester last night, McQueen said it had been completed in the face of two years' opposition from the MoD, which had offered only a limited glimpse of the conflict, refused him access to the families of British casualties and asked why he could not produce "a landscape" portrait instead.

Of the 115 families contacted and asked for photographs, 98 wanted to be involved, four did not and 13 did not respond. The result is a piece of art which is both shocking and moving. McQueen is desperate for the Royal Mail to make real stamps out of his replicas. "The idea of bending down to pick up a letter and that those who have died who look out at you seems immensely powerful. It seems we can have stamps to mark winning the Ashes - but not this," he said.

Royal Mail said it was aware of McQueen's approach but had no immediate plans to take it up. "We plan five years in advance," said a spokesman. The MoD had no comment.

MoD - entirely staffed by unfeeling little cnuts these days?