In this online gallery we invite you to share your soldier art.
Many of the visitors to Created in Conflict: British Soldier Art from the Crimean War to Today have spoken to us about the treasured objects they have at home, collected and produced by family and friends in the military. Soldiers visiting from nearby MoD Kineton talked about how they hadn’t thought about decorating bases, and making things like personalised mugs, hats, game boards and signs as art, but after seeing the show they now think afresh about the creativity involved in things they did to make life more comfortable and to pass the time on operations. Here we hope to bring together and recognise an even broader range of soldiers’ creative work, expanding on the exhibition’s highlighting of the more unexpected forms of soldier art – including sewing, knitting, tattooing, jewellery and toy-making as well as carving, engraving and painting.
Please do send us photographs and the stories of soldier art in your personal collections and experience.
In this opening blog Sapper Adam Williams shares his photographs of wall murals painted by members of many nations forces on recent operations in Iraq.
Williams was, in part, inspired by these other records of national and regimental identity to produce his painting, featured in the exhibition. Williams’s work connects to a long tradition of personalising living spaces on campaign, transforming the immediate environment to make it more habitable. In the range of murals he has photographed we can see soldiers from around the world using art to boost morale and create a little piece of home.
These two photos show probably my favourite mural I have come across. Located in Baghdad Diplomatic Support Centre (BDSC), a large number of troops entering into Iraq pass through here and a section of blast walls are decorated with different American state flags. I see it as a form of interactive art as in the white space below the flag troops can sign their names, so it grows the more people pass through – Date unkown
Spanish Army soldier painting a mural dedicated to “The Last of the Philippines” from the Siege of Baler (1898-99) during the Philippine Revolution. Mural painted in Forward Operating Base (FOB) Gran Capitan, Besmaya, Iraq – painted 2017
Mural that appears to be dedicated to the United States Air Force (based on the content and the est. date), found on Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait – Date unknown
404 Air Support Battalion USAF mural in a abandoned part of Camp Taji, Iraq. Includes close up of the individual Company pieces – Helicopter Support, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Company – Date unkown
I came across this in 2016. It was outside a workshop for the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) in Camp Taji, Iraq. It was put up by members of both the Australian Army and New Zealand Army (ANZAC) and points to various places in their home countries.
“The British Military Quilt is dated May 19, 1881. I don’t know if this was when the soldier making it was wounded or perhaps it has another significance. I believe this was during the Boer War. I got it from an antique store in Henley on Thames in 1973 – It had been in the owner’s family. The corners have different ranking officers with the outside edges (on both sides opposite the centre panel) having hussars with a centre panel containing the British lion and has shamrocks, suggesting he was probably part of the Irish Guards.”
“The second piece is not a quilt but a crazy piece mounted in a frame. The stitches are fantastic! There is one date of 1900, Woolwich. (Possibly made by a sailor?). I also got this when I lived in England and was involved in putting on quilt shows.”