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Nuclear test veterans: Stik sculpture unveiled at Kent army museum

 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-63136372 By Tanya Gupta, 5 Oct 22, BBC News

A model of a soldier ordered to turn his back and cover his face against a nuclear blast has gone on display at the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent.

London street artist Stik spent a year listening to veterans who witnessed nuclear tests in the 1950s to come up with the “terrified, lone figure”.

He said he wanted to show the vulnerability of the soldiers, but also their resilience and strength.

The model will be cast into bronze to create the final sculpture.

In a rare interview, the reclusive artist said he wanted to show human vulnerability, adding: “They were boys when they were sent out to witness an atomic bomb. Some were 16, 17, 18.”

Witnesses have described sitting with their back to the blast but feeling the heat and the force, and being able to see the light through their hands

The sculpture was unveiled at the Gillingham museum during the British Nuclear Test Veterans’ Association’s (BNTVA) annual conference, which is staged in Ashford on the 70th anniversary of Britain’s first weapons test off Western Australia.

For decades, the veterans have fought campaigns for medals, recognition, compensation and an apology from the government, after they witnessed tests with their backs turned to the blast, hands over their eyes, and with no protective clothing.

Many are concerned there is a link between their radiation exposure and ill-health, including cancers.

The Cabinet Office has said it is providing nearly half a million pounds to support veterans. It also said it would hold an oral history project and a commemorative event.

The Ministry of Defence has previously said there was “no valid evidence” linking the nuclear tests to ill-health.

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October 5, 2022 - Posted by | UK, weapons and war

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