Song festival painting by British Army officer soon to be ready

Hugh Beattie in his Colchester studio, putting the finishing touches to his Song Festival painting.
Hugh Beattie in his Colchester studio, putting the finishing touches to his Song Festival painting. Source: ERR

A reservist officer in the British Army has almost finished a painting inspired by the Song and Dance Festival and commissioned by the army itself, according to a report on ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera on Tuesday evening.

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based at Tapa, east of Tallinn, is U.K.-led, and the painting is an added cultural link alongside the existing military one.

The artist, Hugh Beattie, who is a Captain in the Royal Yeomanry, a British Army Reserve unit, has his studio in Colchester, about 100 kilometers northeast of central London, and is in the process of finishing off a painting depicting the traditional procession to the Song Festival grounds, Aktuaalne kaamera reports.

"The sense of joy of a country that's found its freedom after so long under different countries is something that the English take for granted, and to see that in everybody's faces was just joyous," Beattie told ERR's Epp Ehand.

Beattie included various regional elements to the clothing worn by the women in the painting, as well as a Union Flag; the song festival participants depicted are based on real people.

"I've also put in a Union Jack here and there, and they were all in red dresses; I've changed 1 or 2 of the dresses to try and show that every single village in Estonia seems to have a different dress code, so I'm adding elements very subtly, just to show the diversity of clothes in Estonia."

"Perhaps we can find the two girls that are in the painting one day, and do a proper portrait of them. I wonder which village they are from. If you can find them, they can certainly have a free print.

Anyone recognizing themselves in the painting can if they wish contact Aktuaalne kaamera to put themselves in touch with the artist.

Beattie also noted the cultural links between the two countries, which he found important, in addition to NATO practicalities.

"The British have a very ancient tradition of gentlemen in the army who can bring all sorts of skills to whatever they're doing; we're not just there to shoot people and to build a wall against NATO's enemies, we're there to engage in cultural overlap," Beattie said.

The painting is likely to be sent to Estonia as a gift, the report said. Beattie has also painted several Tallinn landscapes.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera segment is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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