A campaign was launched yesterday to replace the head of the Queen on postage stamps with the faces of the soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq. The Imperial War Museum, together with the UK's most important art charity, the Art Fund, is trying to persuade thousands of Britons to sign an online petition to convince Royal Mail to put the stamps into circulation, as a memorial to those who have died in the war.
The stamps have been designed by artist Steve McQueen, who was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum in 2003 to respond to the conflict - tapping into a tradition of war art that goes back to the first world war and beyond, and includes such great artists as John Singer Sargent, Edward Bawden and Paul Nash.
The proposal to put the stamps into circulation was put to Royal Mail by the Imperial War Museum in 2005, but appears to have stalled. The Art Fund and the museum hope that if enough public support is shown, the Post Office could be swayed.
McQueen regards the project as a collaboration with the families of the those who were killed. One hundred and fifty four families agreed to take part; just 19 refused. Each family chose the photographs for the stamps; some are seen in uniform, others are more informally dressed.
The designs for the stamps now exist as an installation which has been bought for the Imperial War Museum by the Art Fund. However, McQueen regards the work in its present state as incomplete - until real stamps are put into circulation.