What motivated you to be a part of this project?
I was motivated to join the project because I know Greg’s work, and was interested in seeing his famous portrait method in action for myself. I also very much wanted to honour my grandmother, whose war service resulted in my very existence – she brought a male “war bride” home from the U.K. in 1945. She met my grandfather, a Royal Navy veteran, through her cousin who served with him. They never would have met if she hadn’t been stationed in Greenock, Scotland (incidentally the home of John McCrae!), enabling him to visit her and bring his friend along, who happened to be my grandfather.
What was going through your mind when you were “Sitting in Remembrance” for the project?
During the portrait session I was, of course, trying very hard to remain still and relaxed. This wasn’t always easy, as I watched in amazement while Greg did his thing. I recognized myself on the canvas within about 3 minutes, when “I” was still just a few brushstrokes, and then saw so many different members of my family – my grandmother, my mother, my dad, my uncle, various cousins – appear and disappear within the painting as Greg added to it. It was quite stunning to see my family’s DNA play out this way; I wish I could have had a time-lapse recording of it. I thought a lot about my grandmother, whose hat I chose to wear and that she would have been very pleased that I sat for this portrait in her honour. I also thought about my grandfather, who would have shared that sentiment. Both were very proud of their Navy service, and remained active Legion members for their entire lives.
What message do you want to pass along to future generations about your life’s experiences?
I don’t know that I’ve got any wisdom to pass along to younger generations, but I would advise them to talk to and absorb the stories of the older people in their lives, for they are more like them than they know.