UK artist calls for postage stamps of Iraq war dead

Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:29pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British artist Steve McQueen, a Turner Prize winner and acclaimed filmmaker, has called for portraits of soldiers killed in the Iraq conflict to be turned into postage stamps.

Presenting his installation made as official war artist for Iraq at the National Portrait Gallery in London on Thursday, McQueen urged the public and media to back his campaign, which has fallen on deaf ears at the Royal Mail.

"What's important about this presentation today is that we need your help," he told reporters as he stood beside an oak cabinet containing 120 vertical draws, each holding a facsimile of a sheet of stamps with the image of a soldier killed in Iraq.

"We're trying to do the right thing, we're trying to do the honorable thing and get these stamps issued," he added.

"We're not interested in sensationalism, we're not interested in anything other than doing the right thing."

McQueen has spoken of his frustration with the Royal Mail, and said that the majority of families of soldiers killed in the Iraq conflict supported the idea of the stamps.

The number of British troops killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 is 179, and 275 more have died in action or in accidents in Afghanistan since 2001.

Britain has withdrawn almost all of its troops from Iraq, but the fact that soldiers are still serving and dying in Afghanistan means the issue is a raw one for families and the broader public.   Continued...

<p>Roger Bacon, father of British Army Major Matthew Bacon, who was killed in Basra, Iraq in 2005, poses with images of his son in a project by artist Steve McQueen at a press preview at the National Portrait Gallery in London March 18, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>