Statue of Iraq invasion soldier expected to be installed in Margate

How the statue could look Image TDC planning/The White Wall Company

A statue modelled on a war veteran who served in Basra during the 2003 Iraq invasion could be installed  in Margate.

Turner Contemporary has applied for permission for the artwork by sculptor Michael Rakowitz to be placed in Marine Terrace and positioned between the Surf Boat Memorial and the Nayland Rock promenade shelter.

The statue would stay at the site between April and November this year as part of Waterfronts, a series of art commissions for England’s Creative Coast.

Taking its name from a line of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland, part of which was written in the Nayland shelter, the temporary sculpture will consist of a life-sized male figure stood upon a plinth.

The war veteran it is based on served with the Royal Artillery in Basra, Iraq during the 2003 invasion.

Taking inspiration from the World War One East Kent Regiment 5th Battalion “The Buffs” and 80 bronze sculptures of Iraqi soldiers who were killed in the Iran-Iraq Wa,r the sculpture is intended to link with other figures along the coast, like Frederick T. Callcott’s Surfboat Memorial and Antony Gormley’s Another Time.

A document submitted for the application states: “The original sculptures of Iraqi soldiers were pointing across the Shatt al-Arab to Iran where they fell. This new temporary work will be pointing towards the Houses of Parliament and the Foreign Office in London.”

Image TDC planning/The White Wall Company

The sculpture will be made from materials including calcite, sand and earth from Basra and chalk from Margate.

The application says: “In reference to the fossil-bearing stone found throughout the coast of Kent the sculpture will have objects embedded within the aggregate ranging from old wooden crates used to ship dates from Basra, to medals and other militaria relics donated by members of Veterans for Peace UK and residents of Margate.

“The sculpture will sit on a freestanding plinth, without the need for foundations, and will be accompanied by a plaque bearing a quote from Siegfried Sassoon, an English poet, writer and soldier who served in the First World War and became a pacifist.”

The design and fabrication of the sculpture is already underway with the main casting due to take place in February.

Installation is expected to take place in the week commencing April 6, with a launch following soon after. The sculpture will be removed in the week commencing November 9.

Seven site-specific art commissions by leading contemporary artists will be launched in 2020 as part of England’s Creative Coast.

Artists Andreas Angelidakis, Mariana Castillo Deball, Holly Hendry, Jasleen Kaur, Katarina Palmer, Pilar Quinteros and Michael Rakowitz are each creating a new work on the Essex, Kent and East Sussex Coastline. The Margate statue will be the first piece to be installed.

The project is led by Turner Contemporary and Visit Kent and principally funded by Arts Council England and Visit England / Visit Britain through the Discover England Fund.

It includes the Waterfronts artworks, curated by Tamsin Dillon; the world’s first art GeoTour using GPS – enabled geocaching technology to share the hidden stories and creative spirit of England’s South East coast; Art Homes, piloted in Margate during the Turner Prize and self – build itineraries that allow visitors to create their own journeys, from cultural experiences to food, drink and accommodation offers.

Turner Contemporary will work with a group made up of 30 members of the community in connection to Michael Rakowitz’s Waterfronts commission From Basara to Margate. The group will be formed from an open call but with a specific focus on engaging local veterans.

The group will examine ideas of hospitality, hostility and conflict.

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