Basra war veteran statue installed in Margate as part of Waterfronts project

Michael Rakowitz:'s sculpture ‘April is the cruellest month’ Photo Frank Leppard

A statue modelled on a war veteran who served in Basra during the 2003 Iraq invasion has been installed in Margate as part of a Turner Contemporary commission.

The artwork by sculptor Michael Rakowitz is at Marine Terrace, positioned between the Surf Boat Memorial and the Nayland Rock promenade shelter.

The statue is part of Waterfronts, a series of art commissions for England’s Creative Coast. It will be officially ‘unveiled’ on May 1.

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

Photo Frank Leppard

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.

Seven site-specific art commissions by leading contemporary artists are being created 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 is the first piece to be installed.

Photo Frank Leppard

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; and self – build itineraries that allow visitors to create their own journeys, from cultural experiences to food, drink and accommodation offers.

Photo Frank Leppard

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.

Waterfront launch dates:

Turner Contemporary in Margate presents Michael Rakowitz: ‘April is the cruellest month’ – 1 May

Cement Fields in Gravesend presents Jasleen Kaur: ‘The first thing I did was to kiss the ground’ – 22 May

Metal in Southend-on-Sea presents Katrina Palmer: ‘Hello’ and ‘Retreat’ – 22 May

The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea presents Holly Hendry: ‘Invertebrate’ – 29 May

Hastings Contemporary presents Andreas Angelidakis: ‘Seawall’ – 29 May

Creative Folkestone presents Pilar Quinteros: ‘Janus’ Fortress Folkestone’ – 29 May

Towner Eastbourne presents Mariana Castillo Deball: ‘Walking through the town I followed a pattern on the pavement that became the magnified silhouette of a woman’s profile’ – 29 May


  1. I actually appreciate this work, but sadly I feel that certain elements of the community will hold a different opinion. I would hate to think that it will be defaced with graffiti, but I fear it will. I hope to be proved wrong!

  2. Wasn’t it an illegal war based on lies and deception, and those mysterious weapons of mass destruction? Isn’t Tony Blair branded as a war criminal in many countries? One of the biggest marches in London protested against the Iraq war, and ironically again today in London demanding the return of civil liberties.

      • Me too! I am an ex serviceman, albeit over 60 years ago, and the British lost thousands of mostly men from the end of the 2nd World War. From memory there were conflicts in Greece, Palestine, Korea, Cypress, Egypt, Suez, Indonesia, British Honduras, Kenya, Libya, Cameroons (where I served) Northern Ireland, thats enough for now, but please forgive me if I forgot some! So, I don’t get it why there is a need to erect statues for wars that were largely political (except in the Balkans which were NATO led) Iraq and Afghanistan were political, to re-elect Bush after the 2001 attack on the twin towers, they didn’t need to be fought at all, and achieved nothing except more deaths, and destruction! Iraq, and Afghanistan had nothing to do with the attacks on the twin towers, they were mainly Saudies, and American friends!

    • Yes @Democrat, absolutely. This article doesn’t specify this, but the statue is a response to the fact it was an illegal war based on lies and deception.

  3. I am a patriotic person who supports the armed forces to the hilt but I feel this is an inappropriate subject for a statue to commemorate.

Comments are closed.