British civilian official war artist in GB, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Gulf War, 1990-1991
REEL 1 Background in GB, 1954-1976: family; education at Wellington College, 1968-1972. Recollections of period as artist in GB, 1976-1990: leaving Camberwell School of Arts, 1976; growing confidence in artistic outlook; interest in global issues; political outlook; attitude towards Falklands War, 1982 and memories of Linda Kitson being selected as official war artist; success of art work during trip to Nicaragua, 1987; background to art work depicting conflict in Northern Ireland; interest of Imperial War Museum in his work, 1983-1984. Recollections of period as official war artist in GB, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Gulf War, 1990-1991: reaction to selection as official war artist by Imperial War Museum, 8/1990.
REEL 2 Continues: description of terms and contract of commission; attitude towards crisis in Gulf; media attention about role; relations with Ministry of Defence; attending medical at Woolwich, GB, 1/1991; background to how Guardian newspaper settled matter of insurance; contracting artist Linda Kitson for advice; question of what equipment to take; degree of military training and advice received; flight from RAF Brize Norton, GB to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 2/1991; reaction to arrival in war zone; reception on arrival in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 2/1991; comparison between work as artist and journalists’ work; accommodation in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; reaction of military personnel to his presence.
REEL 3 Continues: relationship with military personnel; accommodation in Sheraton Hotel in Bahrain; atmosphere amongst RAF personnel in Sheraton Hotel in Bahrain; painting ‘Death at the Sheraton’ and ‘Laser Guided’; opposition to his journalistic work; joining British Army personnel in desert; impressions of desert; attitude of troops waiting for ground war to begin; reaction to witnessing air war; inspiration for paintings; attitude towards pacifism; question of origins of Gulf War; reaction of journalists to prospect of Iraq withdrawing from Kuwait; experiencing chemical alert and painting ‘Ecstasy of Fumbling’.
REEL 4 Continues: question of participating in conflict; receiving invitation to stay with British Army during ground war and decision to join Royal Navy; attitude towards period with Royal Navy; impressions of oil slicks; helicopter flight into Kuwait City; impressions of Kuwait City; atmosphere during liberation of Kuwait City and reception from Kuwaitis; clothing worn; contact with Kuwaiti civilians and their experiences of occupation; inspiration for painting ‘Mickey Mouse at the Front’; origins of painting ‘Looking for Evidence’; visit to burning oil refinery.
REEL 5 Continues: journey along Basra Road; evidence of bombing of Iraqi convoy at Multa Ridge; reaction to sight of single dead Iraqi; origins of painting ‘Scenes on the Road to Hell’; origins of painting ‘Ashes to Ashes’; opinion of publication of photograph of carbonised body in Observer Newspaper; question of time spent on Basra Road; question of collection of items. Reflections on period as official war artist in GB, 1991-1992: eagerness to return to GB; preparation to paint from his experiences in Gulf War; coping with Gulf War experience; constraints and opportunities of being official war artist; attitude towards Imperial War Museum’s selection of painting ‘Mickey Mouse at the Front’; attitude towards tradition of war artists.
REEL 6 Continues: opinion of John Singer Sargent’s painting ‘Gassed’; comparison between his painting and John Singer Sargent’s work; description of recording experience for later work; importance of selection of painting ‘Mickey Mouse at the Front’ by Imperial War Museum; reaction to media attention and criticism of work; nature of controversy over painting ‘Mickey Mouse at the Front’; mixed reaction to his exhibition at Imperial War Museum; controversy over use of page of Koran in painting ‘Alien Landscape’; reaction to removal of ‘Alien Landscape’ from Imperial War Museum exhibition; commercial success of Gulf War commission; attitude towards conflict in former-Yugoslavia, 1992.
REEL 7 Continues: attitude towards painting; future plans.