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One hundred years of Scottish army life captured on canvas

One hundred years of Scottish army life captured on canvas

David Rowlands has been studying army life for over three decades.

As a military artist, the 63-year-old has travelled to the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq to capture scenes of war zones, using his paintbrush to tell the stories of combat on the front lines.

His work is a labour of love which spans back to his childhood days. He was always interested in the history of the British Army and fascinated by intricacies in uniforms.

  (© David Rowlands)
via STV via STV

As well as immersing himself in army life by joining operations as an artist, David has also turned to the history books to cover conflicts such as the Jacobite Rebellion and the Napoleonic Wars.

For his latest piece of work, he was tasked with showing the relationship between the army and Scottish society over the last 100 years, a challenge which has resulted in his largest piece of work to date.

  (© David Rowlands)
via STV via STV

From the trenches to the lone piper, the painting depicts scenes from the outbreak of the First World War to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. There is also a segment marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos, with over 20 different scenes collectively coming together for this piece called Service.

via STV via STV

“A few of the scenes are of modern parades or ceremonials such as the march past the parliament or Glasgow remembrance Sunday,” David, who is based in Bristol, said.

via STV via STV

“I attended those events to see for myself but many of the many operational scenes were done with the help of photographs, sketches or notebooks that I had made.

“I have been on operations with many Scottish regiments. As a professional artist that specialises in paintings of the British Army, I have been lucky enough to go on operations with them since 1984.

“I was able to look into my boxes of notes and photos and find items such as ruined houses and things that I was able to utilise in my scenes.

He added: “For the more historic scenes such as the First and Second World War, I had to include the Gordon Highlanders, Seaforth Highlanders and Cameron Highlanders at that particular battle.

via STV via STV

“The actual badges they would have worn on their sleeves and Tam o' Shanters and all of those things varied, not just over time, but also between battalions. I had to research that quite a lot to get that right."

Now hanging at the Scottish Parliament, the painting was pieced together by David bit by bit to make a jigsaw effect timeline spanning a century.

“It is the largest painting that I have ever worked on,” he said. “I concentrated on about three different scenes at the same time and tried to finalise those before moving onto the next one.

via STV via STV

“I had a pile of books with sketches and notes made in libraries for one scene and when I had finally painted that scene, moved onto the next.

“The first time I actually saw it all together and stood back to see it in one piece was at the framing studio on the last day.

“Prior to that, in my artist studio, it has been done in sections at a time.

“It was very gratifying to at last see it.”

The painting will be on display at the Scottish Parliament until the end of January 2016 before travelling across Scotland.

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