For Queen and Country: A moment to remember

Susie Stubbs
Steve McQueen, Queen and Country, IWM ART 17290 (installation)

We mark Remembrance Day with a look at Steve McQueen’s moving work.

One anonymous day in November, I walked into Liverpool Cathedral. The weather outside was wild: gunmetal grey skies, hammering rain, wind slapping the walls. An umbrella lay discarded on the ground by the entrance, its ribs broken, its canopy ripped. So I took shelter inside the quiet, soaring spaces of the cathedral. Across the floor was spread a sea of poppies, each one attached to a wooden cross, each one bearing words of remembrance: a name and two dates, mostly. But on a few were also messages. On one I read the name of a soldier who had died forty years previously and, underneath, a handwritten scrawl that spelled out “I still miss you”.

The artist Steve McQueen has made a military tribute of a more formal kind; his Queen and Country, currently on show at IWM North, features facsimile postage sheets, each depicting the portrait of a soldier who died in the Iraq War (pictured above). “Many people read it as a memorial,” says IWN curator, Sara Bevan. “But it’s not that simple. It does commemorate the people whose portraits are on the stamps but at the same time it’s more ambiguous. It questions the idea of dying for your country.” In other words, McQueen asks us, was it worth it? It’s not answer that can be easily answered – but perhaps for me it was, that day in November in Liverpool. Perhaps it’s what eleven o’clock this morning is really about. Four simple words. “I still miss you.”

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Things to do right now

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3 December 2022 10:00 am, FREE

Winter Art and Craft Fair at Heart

Activity Until 3 December 2022, from £35.00

Wreath Making Workshop at Leeds City Museum

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022
Cinema Until 4 December 2022, from £5

HOME Artist Film Weekender 2022

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals Until 4 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks