Portrait of Queen made from army uniform labels on show in Notts

Queen, art, labels

A portrait of the monarch made from army uniform labels will go on display in Nottingham in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Inspired by the Queen’s Christmas speech in 2014, Ilkeston artist Joy Pitts spent 136 hours painstakingly pinning labels to a canvas to create the portrait ahead of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.

The piece, titled ‘Reconciliation’ took the names of soldiers who fought in World War One from Ilkeston’s Cenotaph, and weaved them onto name tags.

She said: “I was inspired by the 2014 Christmas speech about reconciliation and peaceful ends to war. She was talking about the 100 years since World War One and the conflicts we have in the world today.”

The artist used 125g of pins to place the labels, and could only work for two days at a time before needing a break, because of the nature of the work.

She said: “The work is painstaking, and I normally put plasters on my fingers to save my hands. I can only work for two days at a time before I need a break.”

The Queen appreciated the portrait and wrote to me

The piece was previously unveiled in London but will now return to Smalleys Gentleman’s outfitters on Derby Road to be displayed in the window four days a week.

Joy added: “Smalleys has lots of vintage garments, and the owner has an interest in military clothing. I chose them because of the military collection, and the fact that they are a small business like mine.”

The artist, who studied MA Fine Art at Nottingham Trent in 2005, has previously been commissioned to create pieces for Nottingham based designer Paul Smith, as well as Liberty department store in London.

She received a letter from the Queen after she saw her creation.

She said: “It was amazing really, the letter said how much she appreciated the portrait and how much care had been taken in assembling the work.”

She added: “I’ve had amazing public support – people comment on how much the portrait looks painted, and when they look there is more to it than meets the eye. People seem to be moved by the names of the men who fought in World War One.”

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Bromley House Library on Angel Row, Joy will be creating a special piece featuring the names of librarians from records dating back to 1816.

The artwork will show the exterior of the library and will be revealed in December.

The portrait of the Queen will be on display at Smalleys from 1pm on 8 June, and until 5pm on 11 June.

You can also meet the artist on Friday 10 June from 2pm until 5:30pm.

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