FINE artist Sam Bailey has created a lasting legacy to fallen British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her drawings of Servicemen and women have been brought together in two projects – The Mighty 456 and The Illustrious 181, raising money for The Royal British Legion and Soldiers in Mind.
“After watching the Invictus Games I felt like I wanted to make a difference,” said Sam. “The moment you start writing all 456 names it has more relevance, and when you start putting faces to names, it becomes real [and] personal.”
Sam works full-time as a teacher in Northampton and also runs The Regimental Art Company, founded by her and her then-partner Alex. She used her art to aid his recovery from depression after being discharged from the Army on medical grounds.
“Fusilier Samuel Flint was my first drawing and his mother was the first family member to get in touch,” Sam explained. “Naively I hadn’t thought anyone would be interested, so it was a very moving experience when she made contact. I turned his portrait into a memory box for her and had it delivered on what would have been his 25th birthday.
“I drew for around 20 hours a day every day for 12 weeks in order to meet the publishing deadline. At times I thought I couldn’t continue, but messages of support from the friends and family of the fallen kept me going. To think that an ordinary person like me has made a difference to others has been the most humbling feeling.”
The Illustrious 181 is near completion and updates on Sam’s work are on Facebook.
“I try to show the process of completing them as I believe it’s magical,” she said. “I start with a blank sheet of paper and then you start to see them appear with their sparkling eyes and cheeky smiles. It is very moving, and I want the families to be part of that experience.”