In 2011 Derek Eland was an official war artist embedded with the British Army in Helmand, Afghanistan. In his month at the front line the artist asked soldiers and civilians to write what it was like to be there on postcards. These stories were then collated in three front line Diary Rooms, for example using a shipping container. Hundreds of stories were collected from British and Western soldiers and Afghans.
The stories describe the reality of everyday life on the front line alongside emotional accounts written in the immediate aftermath of battle. The work presents a collective self portrait of a contemporary conflict with soldiers often referring to ‘two wars’: one involving bullets and bombs and the other which goes on in a soldiers head when everything goes quiet.
The resulting work has been described in the international press as ‘groundbreaking’ and is currently touring a number of galleries in the UK and overseas as a solo exhibition. The story has been covered by the press in over 30 countries worldwide including BBC Radio 3, 4 and 5 Live, BBC news, a BBC TV documentary, CNN, the Independent, The i, Sunday Mirror, Agence France-Presse and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.