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J.Hugh.L.Beattie Portraits, Military & Civil. 
As Colchester burnt under the rage of Boudica in 60AD it in practice lost its Capital City status. After reconstruction it became a Colonia, a retirement home for Legionary soldiers and though it was the only city in Britain to have a Hippodrome as far as we know, it no longer had such a prestigious position and reduced itself further after the legions left in 410 to that of a town. 
I had the honour of being asked by Colchester Council to paint the return of Colchester to City Status, after Queen Elizabeth of ‘blessed memory the second of that name’, granted Colchester the honour of returning to her rightful place, a City. 
The painting depicts Sphinx battery of 7 RHA Airborne Artillery, firing the Jubilee Gun Salute 2022 in Castle Park. Colchester Castle is just about visible above the trees. The huge crowd of patriotic onlookers dwarfs the small group of invited dignitaries at the official marquee. Also depicted is one of the Colchester guard two policemen and a labrador dog. The salute is being taken by the Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Jennifer Tolhurst. 
One of the many reasons Colchester earnt her City status is because of the ‘Saluting Station’. This is how the idea of a painting view of Castle Park Gun Salute was chosen to define the city’s rebirth. 
The composition was at first a bit of a puzzle. The guns are always arranged in a line. As a painter I like to have a strong foreground, which means putting figures as close as possible to the viewer. Having a gun and crew in the foreground would mean the other guns would be off the canvas to the right. This meant that I had to negotiate with 7 RHA to permit me some artistic license. I first offered the idea of a staggered gun line, one behind the other: But eventually a curve was agreed upon and though this delayed the start date of the painting I soon managed to get a light gun to model for me on a sunny day and subsequently get cracking. Now you would hardly notice that the guns are not quite as they were on the day. 
The painting will be exhibited at the Minories Gallery, by the Colchester war memorial until 15th April and then it will be hung in the Town Hall on the side of the central stairs. 
(We all still call it a TOWN hall)… All Colchester needs now is a Cathedral. 
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