Conflict show depicts British soldier's life

Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:56pm EST
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By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Amputation, post-traumatic stress, bravery, camaraderie and the unique life of the British soldier is painstakingly documented in a new show at London's National Army Museum.

"Conflicts of Interest" explores more than three decades of soldiering by examining the role of the British Army across the globe and the impact on the lives of the men and women who sign on to serve Queen and country.

Photographs, blown-up images of newspaper front pages, touch screens, machine guns, rocket launchers, uniforms, a raft of facts and figures, thematic wall and floor decorations and even a piece of shrapnel which cost one British soldier his arm, tell the tale of sacrifice and danger in the British Army.

The exhibition focuses on key international conflicts from Northern Ireland and the Falklands to Iraq and Afghanistan, while debating domestic issues and the modern military.

The show doesn't flinch from the less painful aspects of army life, the hardship of enduring rapid turnarounds from one conflict zone to the next and the terrible price that many pay when their careers end in tragedy or after leaving the army.

Curator Mairead O'Hara said the museum tried to portray army life behind the recruitment posters, and said the Army exercised no editorial control over the exhibition.

"I felt it was important that we presented a very rounded perspective of these conflicts," O'Hara said.

A white wall in the middle of the show details facts next to a large photograph of a homeless middle-aged man sitting against a wall, his legs under a grubby sleeping bag and lighting a roll-up cigarette.   Continued...