Colchester Art Society artical
Posted on 15th February 2022 at 20:06
Painting for the Army
Deep in the heart of Eight Ash Green, very close to Essex Yeomanry Roundabout, nr Stanway, hidden by silver birch trees, is a large former garage called the ‘Yeoman’s Studio’. I converted the studio with huge skylights in 2017 and made this my base after many years in Fulham. I have been working on military and civilian art, landscapes and portraits all my life but I now have an official post as artist for the Army.
What is the ‘Yeomanry’ some of you may ask- well it used to mean Reserve Cavalry troops, that were once responsible for keeping the Luddites (machine breakers, 1820) under control in each county. Now they are usually light cavalry but here in Essex they are a squadron of 71 Regiment Royal Signals. I happen to be a Royal Yeomanry officer.
So, in this idyllic 'Yeoman’s Studio' I paint and draw for anyone who would like me to. My artwork for the Army is sometimes quite obscure, it can entail portraits of famous soldiers. Sometimes I am asked to draw cartoons that express the Army’s messages in faraway places. Cartoons specifically, so the locals can see instantly what message the army is keen to disseminate, without language and literacy problems. I have been asked to illustrate brochures and posters. I very much enjoy designing badges and logos. But don’t blame me for the new Ranger badge, not one of mine! It looks like it was made for the set of ‘Star Ship Troopers!’ (Film 1997)
The Army fights on many fronts even in peace time. They have coined the term the ‘Grey War’ which tries to describe the tensions between nations online. During peace it has always been important to exhibit strength so one can hold aggressive nations at bay. The size of the current British army requires it to work hard to prove its effectiveness in practical soldiering and in the digital world. I support both sides of this coin. In the practical role, I have always painted paintings to promote the morale of the troops, using large oil paintings to inspire pride in field training. The new side of my job is in support of this digital world where images are often more effective than words. Now I have the extra thrill of being involved in this new type of defence which proves that the role of the Artist will never be removed by the camera!
The painting depicts Light Cavalry soldiers in a West African sun set, talking to locals on a routine patrol in Mali. (Artists Copyright)
Please do visit my studio, by appointment.
By Hugh Beattie
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