Dundee artist Kiera remembers Grandfather killed in Northern Ireland with exhibition display

Having growing up in a military home, it was a natural decision for Dundee student Kiera Marshall to incorporate her experiences into her artwork by  creating a memorial to her grandfather, who was killed by the IRA during the Troubles in Ireland in 1975.

A member of the Gordon Highlanders regiment, Lance Corporal Jack Marshall had been on patrol in the Ardoyne area of Belfast when he was shot by an IRA sniper and killed on August 28, 1977.

Aged just 25, he left behind a wife and two children.

Kiera, a student at Jordanstone College of Art & Design and Architecture (JDCAD), said her dad had followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the regiment, serving in the the Iraq/Afghanistan war as well as other places around the world.

For JDCAD’s Degree Show earlier this month, the 23-year-old from Dundee displayed two mannequins wearing outfits created with the help of her father John, as well as a series of banners.

“It’s sort of my experience as a military child,” Kiera said.

“Before my dad retired, he had many kinds of roles in the army but his most recent and longest was as a master tailor which is why I’ve decided to use uniforms in the work.”

One uniform featured articles and other snippets from her grandfather’s life, while the other was decorated with a newspaper article about her dad joining the regiment.

Researching the project had allowed Kiera a chance to get to know her grandfather in a way.

“Obviously I never met my grandfather so it’s nice to get to know him through going to the archives for example,” she said.

“I also have been in touch with friends and colleagues of my grandfather through social media and they’ve been excellent, giving me stories about the kind of person he was.

She also left a visitor book beside the artwork find out what people honestly thought of it, and said she was very happy with response.

“A word that keeps coming across is moving, people seem to be moved by it,” she said.

“I know I am, it would have nice to meet my grandfather and I always wonder what he would have been like because he looks like my dad.

“I think for my dad as well, it’s very moving for him as well because he was so young when he lost his dad so it’s really nice to have that reaction.

“My grandfather’s friend came in the other day, he came in with his full uniform on and stood quietly in front of the mannequins and it was very moving to watch because you could tell he was clearly upset, it wasn’t nice to see but it was bittersweet to see it had that effect on people.”

Kiera visited Ireland as part her research and said it was interesting to be there during The Twelfth marches, seeing the unrest that as still there. However, she didn’t want her artwork to be a political statement but more a personal memorial.

“People might think it’s very political, when I was sat here some people came in and might have assumed it was political but that’s only a small part of it, it’s more of a commemoration to the sort of guy that he was, that I never got to meet.

“When a soldier dies you don’t hear much about the sort of person they were. It can just seem like another number, so it’s been interesting to hear about the man behind the uniform.

“I don’t want it to be a political statement. His job was a big part of his life but it would be nice if people could learn more about him through this work.”