From British daily The Independent:
Turner-prize winner’s true portrait of war
By Ian Herbert
Published: 27 February 2007
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.
To the astonishment of the 98 bereaved families who have worked on the project with McQueen, the Royal Mail chairman, Allan Leighton has also declined the artist’s personal request that the stamps be turned into a real commemorative issue, to mark the lives laid down in the conflict.
Carol Jones, the mother of Sgt John Jones, whose image is reproduced in The Independent with her permission, said she was astonished that McQueen had been discouraged from approaching her.
“It’s wonderful, such a tribute, and it makes me feel so proud,” she said.
“We will always remember our sons and husbands but I don’t know about the public, once this conflict is over.
How wonderful it would be to receive a letter through the post with John’s face on it.
I wish the Royal Mail would co-operate while the conflict is still remembered.”
McQueen says he was deeply moved by the reaction of 200 families who attended a private view of the piece, a pre-commission for this summer’s Manchester International Festival.
“One little girl came up and said, ‘do you want to see my daddy’ and pulled out the drawer,” he said.
Update, March 2008: here.