In For Exemplary Bravery, the history of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, I wrote:
In a book such as this it is relatively easy to outline the events that prompt gallant and selfless action.
It is much harder to convey the horror or terror or sense of danger inspired by a raging fire, a furious storm at sea, the actions of an armed and violent person or war at its most personal and bloody.
It is impossible to convey adequately the long-term mental and physical consequences to many of those who have acted so gallantly.
I could not have had a better illustration to help make that point than the emotive portrait of Corporal David Timmins QGM by the Scottish artist Tom McKendrick.
Tom has painted another recipient of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal—Lieutenant Colonel Peter Shields MBE, QGM. Peter was recognised for his gallantry in the aftermath of a massive ammunition explosion in Kuwait on 11 July 1991.
Both of these portraits feature in a new exhibition by Tom—SOLDIERS—which opens to the public at the Studio Pavilion, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow on Monday 3 November and will run until 22 December from 11.00am to 4.00pm daily.
Historically the relationship between artists and soldiers is long and well established. Rembrandt, Dix, Palmer, Bone, Orpen, Nash, Goya and many, more painted soldiers or produced work on military themes.
In this project Tom McKendrick has turned his eye to the human condition in the context of conflict.
In the exhibition are portraits and the experiences of people who have ‘served’, creating personal snapshots of recent British military history through the eyes of its witnesses.
In portraits painted to date, images and documentary evidence of people who fought at Monte Cassino, Dunkirk, Normandy, Greece, North Africa and Germany and the more up to date conflicts of Northern Ireland, Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan have been recorded.
The aim of this project is to create a unique collection of images of individuals, their personal reflections and experiences in war.