The McKendrick soldier portraits: An exciting acquisition for Scotland’s youngest regimental museum

Three paintings by Tom McKendrick, acquired by the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2018 with an NFA grant of £3,000

It’s always a pleasure adding new objects to the collection but the recent acquisition of three portraits by Scottish artist Tom McKendrick, thanks to generous grants from the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Art Fund, was a particularly exciting one for the Museum of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. As Scotland’s youngest regimental museum, only established in 2013, we have a small but constantly expanding collection that reflects the experiences and activities of the Regiment since its formation in 2006.

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe

Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe, 2013, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

One of the difficulties in collecting objects to a modern and very active regiment is the lack of opportunities to acquire items of real quality. Silver, paintings, medals and many of the other impressive trappings of regimental life are constantly in use and consequently rarely parted with. We were therefore absolutely thrilled when an opportunity arose to acquire three portraits by the wonderfully talented Scottish artist Tom McKendrick.

Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC

Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC, 2014, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

The paintings feature Warrant Officer 2nd Class Terry Lowe, Colour Sergeant Craig Sharp MC and Corporal James Smith respectively and are all from McKendrick’s Soldiers series. In 2012 the artist felt he would like to mark the approaching centenary of the First World War and in order to do that decided to paint one hundred portraits of men and women who have served their country.

Corporal James Smith

Corporal James Smith, 2012, by Tom McKendrick © Tom McKendrick

The three portraits are all striking aesthetically and each soldier featured has an interesting associated story. As a result, the portraits not only have a strong emotional resonance but also touch upon a variety of themes such as pride, identity, injury (both physical and mental), courage, loss and comradeship. The portraits along with other work from Tom’s Soldiers series will be going on display at Clydebank Museum in November of this year and it’s hoped they can be loaned to other Scottish museums and galleries in 2019 and beyond.

Desmond Thomas
Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland

To hear the soldiers talk about their experiences and give their opinions on their portraits, please click on the links below.

James Smith Video Interview

Terry Lowe Video Interview

Craig Sharp MC Video Interview