Artist Gifts Soldier Portrait To Charity Honouring WW1 Sikh Service

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Artist Gifts Soldier Portrait To Charity Honouring Sikh Service During WW1

An artist from Shropshire has made a special gift to a UK Sikh military charity, after being inspired to draw a portrait of the Sikh soldier.

Lisa Pitchford, who works from her studio in Ironbridge, was moved by the stories of service and sacrifice made by Sikh soldiers during the World Wars after visiting the National Memorial Arboretum, near Lichfield in Staffordshire, and seeing a monument created in their memory.

While paying her tributes to men of the Royal Green Jackets who had served abroad, Lisa was exploring the arboretum’s woodlands and monuments when she came upon the statue created by the WW1 Sikh Memorial charity.

Lisa says: “I was deeply moved by the breathtaking sculptures, tributes, and stories and was inspired to capture some of them in my work. In particular, I was drawn to the nobility of the ‘WW1 Sikh Memorial’, erected to honour the bravery and sacrifice of the 124,245 Sikh soldiers who fought in the Great War.”

What followed was a devotion to capturing the Sikh soldier in art form, Lisa spent more than 70 hours on the work paying meticulous attention to detail, working in both ink & watercolour pen and layering 20 colours to produce a portrait that has an almost 3D quality.

The portrait went on display at her studio at Maws Craft Centre, Jackfield, Shropshire and Lisa said she was amazed by the interest it generated.

“I believe that art should spark conversation, and I hope that in some small way it will help increase awareness and appreciation and inspire people to find out more.”

Lisa posted a photo of the portrait on her social media channels, and the founder and chairman of the WW1 Sikh Memorial charity, Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal VR, reached out to find out more.

Jay said: “I was struck by just how life-like the image was, and that a remarkably talented artist had spent so much time and effort on depicting the iconic image, getting every feature just right.  I wanted to find out more and say thank you, and in so doing was elated to meet Lisa and discover her work and passion for storytelling through art.  The WW1 Sikh Memorial was created to inspire current and future generations to discover and remember the service and sacrifice of my people, who travelled from northern India to fight for our freedoms today.  I know this painting will help tell this story in new and engaging ways, and encourage people to visit the memorial itself at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.”

The WW1 Sikh Memorial was created in 2015 and unveiled that year by the current head of the British Army, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders KCB CBE DSO, who said at the time that “the record of service of courage and sacrifice of Sikhs during the First World War is really second to none.”

The memorial ws the first of its kind – a statue commemorating the bravery and sacrifice of Sikh soldiers during the conflict. The Sikh contribution is remarkable, as despite being only 1% of the Indian population at the time, they constituted 20% of the Indian Army under the British, and were represented in over a third of the regiments at the time.  For their heroism, Sikhs received 29% of all Indian Orders of Merit awarded during the war and 24% of all Indian Distinguished Service Medals.

In 2016, the WW1 Sikh Memorial was recognized at the prestigious “Remember WW1″ awards winning the category prize for “Remembering the Fallen: War Memorials, Graves and Gardens.”

Lisa has now gifted the portrait to the Sikh memorial charity, who will be touring the UK with it to raise awareness of the Sikh contribution during the World Wars and to encourage people to visit the National Memorial Arboretum.


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