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A drawing made by Linda Kitson during the Falklands campaign.

Drawing the Falklands: Julian Thompson and Linda Kitson Discuss War Artists, Art and Memory

Julian Thompson and Linda Kitson
RUSI Journal, 31 May 2017
Art, Culture and Literature, History
War artists play an important role in how wars are remembered.

Major General Julian Thompson served in the Royal Marines for more than 30 years, and commanded 3 Commando Brigade during the Falklands War in 1982. He was in charge of much of the land fighting during that conflict, and has written several books on military history.

Linda Kitson was the first woman to be commissioned by the Artistic Records Committee of the Imperial War Museum as the official War Artist for the Falklands Task Force – the first female artist officially to accompany troops in battle. She sailed for the South Atlantic in May 1982 on Queen Elizabeth II with 5 Infantry Brigade, and then transferred to SS Canberra and disembarked at San Carlos on 3 June. She then followed British forces across the island to Stanley. She spent three months drawing all aspects of the daily life of the troops, working quickly and producing more than 400 drawings in extreme weather
conditions. On her return to Britain in July 1982, her drawings were exhibited at the Imperial War Museum.

Thirty-five years after the Falklands War, the RUSI Journal asked them for their views on how wars are represented and remembered. What followed was a fascinating conversation in which they discussed the past, present and future of war art; its place in the wider realm of visual art and in light of the 24-hour news coverage and social media images of war that dominate today’s world; the relationship between war artists and their subjects; and the role war art can play in helping veterans and societies to
remember the experiences of conflict.

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