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

A statue modelled on a war veteran who served in Basra during the 2003 Iraq invasion, has been installed in the British sea-side town of 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. 

Rakowitz's 'April is the cruellest month' was officially ‘unveiled’ on May 1. Taking its name from a line in 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. 

The war veteran it is based on served with the Royal Artillery in Basra, Iraq during the 2003 invasion. At its base is a plaque inscribed with a statement by the First World War British soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon who, like Rakowitz, had Iraqi Jewish ancestry. 

Rakowitz’s soldier turns his back on the shore and instead points inland towards London and parliament, where the decision to go to war with Iraq was made. 

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 War, the sculpture is intended to link with other figures along the English coast.

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