Having trained as a professional Illustrator, I have for the last few years been focusing on my very specialised and unique military artwork. I have reinvented an old art form in the name of “Muster Rolls” or more commonly known as “Rolls of Honour”, which were produced hundreds of years ago to depict the fallen soldiers as a record during the world wars within the military.
I have redesigned and developed this idea to include our current serving soldiers names, as well as fallen soldiers, which is a memorable snapshot of our units at particular times. Some of these have been commissioned to commemorate Centenary, Tercentenary and other such prestigious events and celebrations.
My work to date has varied in size, ranging from A4 up to A0 (33“ x 47“). Most of the commissions I have produced to date have included from 400-650 names, although I am able to incorporate hundreds more. Each piece of work is meticulously drawn and measured out into Companies or Squadrons and every name and battle honour is handwritten in calligraphy with hand painted cap badges. These take between two and three months to produce.
The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards
This Roll of Honour was commissioned by Colonel Alex McKay to record the Grenadier Guards NATO commitment and Very High Readiness year, 2017. This was an enormous piece that measured 33“ x 47“ and double the size of my average roll to date.
When designing it, we wanted to incorporate the seventeen flames of the “grenade fired proper” which made it totally unique to anything else I’d done previously. It was presented to the Regiment on 12th September 2017 by Colonel McKay and it now hangs proudly in the Officers Mess.
1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment
Having completed the 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’s Roll of Honour in May 2017, the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment then commissioned a piece to also commemorate their 25th Anniversary.
The presentation was held at the Officers Mess in Paderborn, Germany. My artwork was much admired by the Commanding Officer Mike Cornwell and the General Chief of Staff.
Royal Navy – HMS St Albans
I was commissioned by Lt Cdr Jamie Walker, the Marine Engineer Officer of HMS ST ALBANS to produce a bespoke piece of calligraphy artwork for his leaving presentation in June 2017, having been introduced to Lt Cdr at the Beating of the Retreat shortly before. This was presented to the Commanding Officer HMS ST ALBANS, Commander Chris Ansell Royal Navy and Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Adam Ballard, Royal Navy.
The Kings Own Calgary Regiment
It was thanks to LinkedIn that I managed to secure my first Canadian commission at the beginning of 2017. The former Commanding Officer of The King’s Own Calgary Regiment, Ross Wickware, commissioned my artwork to commemorate ‘Honouring the 150th Anniversary of Canada, the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge and the 75th Anniversary of the Raid on Dieppe’.
What makes this piece so unique is that I designed it with tiny coloured maple leaves. This scroll is divided it two sections, the top half includes all the Commanding Officers from when the Regiment formed and the bottom section which includes all the Regimental Sergeant Major’s of the same period.”
I was very proud to be asked to the presentation in Calgary on June 19 2017, whereupon I was introduced to the current Commanding Officer, Colonel Christopher Hunt and other Colonel’s from different regiments who were present. CTV (Calgary Television) filmed the presentation which was aired that evening.”
On the back of this trip and after a few meetings in Calgary and Edmonton I am now being commissioned by other regiments in Canada.
“The King’s Own Calgary Regiment (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) has had our history captured in the amazing Roll of Honour created by the artist Clare Villar. The intricate lineage and diversity in design of our cap badges has been replicated with truly amazing accuracy and detail. The Battle Honours that form the outer rings of this work of art portray the sacrifices made by our Regiment in both World Wars and most recently in Afghanistan. The complex tricolor rings of maple leaves give this work additional depth and dimension. This magnificent artwork instantly became a central part of the Regimental Collection and our history.
It is difficult to instill pride in an individual when they join a unit; Clare’s creation brings to life the fabric and history in a manner that is superior to other approaches. We are very proud of our history; Clare Villar’s art portrays and memorializes the Regiment and that pride forever.”
Lieutenant-Colonel R. H. Wickware (Ret’d)
The King’s Own Calgary Regiment, Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
The ‘Roberts Rugs’
In February 2017 I was contacted by Lt Col Jamie Murray of the Second Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles who had recently taken possession of a Turkmen made Afghan carpet. This carpet was a commemoration piece to honour those who have served and sacrificed during the course of the British Army’s last 13 years in that country. My artwork was commissioned so that it would explain the carpet and its origins.
The ‘Roberts Rug’ commemorates the service and the sacrifice of the officers of The Second Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles since its first deployment to Afghanistan in 2004. It was purchased by officers serving the battalion during Operation TORAL 3 in 2016.
This is a traditional Turkmen tribal carpet in the famous octagonal elephant foot design. Made in Mazar-i-Shariff in the northern Balkh province of Afghanistan it took over two years to complete. The rug was purchased from Mr Abdul Wali, whose family has been selling carpets to members of the officers’ mess for the last decade.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Clare on two projects over the last 12 months and am delighted with her service and the artwork she has produced. My first experience was a personal project when I asked her to paint my family pets as a surprise Christmas gift for my wife. For the whole project I was based in Kabul and had difficulty sourcing the right quality of photos without my wife’s knowledge. Yet Clare was brilliant – her communication and customer service was exemplary; patient and sympathetic she worked with the images I could source – and produced a brilliant piece of work for my family. We are absolutely thrilled with it.
As a consequence, I then commissioned Clare to produce a commemorative piece of art which explains the origins of a carpet my Officers’ Mess purchased in Afghanistan. Here again, Clare’s product was quite simply exceptional. Her work draws the eye of both my Mess Members and our many visitors who, without exception, are always impressed. This most recent addition to our Mess property will stay with my Regiment for many years to come – and will continue to impress all who come into contact with it.
It is my pleasure to recommend Clare as an artist of significant pedigree who puts her customers first. My Regiment will certainly be seeking to do business with her again soon.”
Lt Col Jamie Murray, Commanding Officer
Second Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles/ British Force Brunei
2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment
1st Battalion Scots Guards
In late 2015 I was contacted by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards who had seen a feature in the Soldier Magazine on my artwork a few months before hand. They had very much liked the idea and decided to have one commissioned. During the summer of 2016 I had been in the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre exhibiting my work where the Out and About team, which are part of the Midlands Today News, were interviewing local residents and picked up on my story and wanted to feature it on the Midlands Today News. Their Art and Culture journalist Satnam Rana came to film me painting this particular piece of artwork at home and then came to film the presentation of the Roll to the Battalion in Aldershot.
The King’s Royal Hussars
It was on the back of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry Centenary celebrations that I was approached by General Sir Richard Shirreff, the Colonel of the Regiment, to produce The King’s Royal Hussars Roll of Honour for their Tercentenary commemorations on 18th July 2015.
I was very fortunate to be asked to present my framed Roll to their Colonel in Chief, HRH Princess Royal, General Sir Richard Shirreff and Colonel Justin Kingsford. I was also commissioned by General Shirreff to paint his beautiful Spaniel Delilah.
‘Clare Villar combines a meticulous eye for detail with real artistic flair. Her work is ideally suited for any major regimental commemorations. Certainly, the Roll of Honour she painted for the King’s Royal Hussars Tercentenary in 2015 is destined to become a collector’s item.’
General Sir Richard Shirreff
Colonel of the Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry
In 2014 Colonel Chris MacGregor who was visting the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian spotted my Roll of Honour being displayed in the Officer’s Mess at Dawley Bank, Telford. He really liked the idea and commissioned one for his regiment, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry for their Centenary commemorations that summer.
I was given the honour of presenting my roll to HRH Duke of Wessex who was also given his own personal framed print from the Regiment.
It is with great thanks to Colonel Chris who recognised the potential in my unique military artwork and was an instrumental part of kick starting my career of which I will always be very grateful.
“The Royal Wessex Yeomanry was to receive a new Regimental cap-badge from our Royal Honorary Colonel, HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex in 2014. Having seen Clare’s original artwork the year before, it was a very easy decision to commission her to design and paint a Regimental Roll-of-Honour to both mark the occasion and record the names of all those present, and the old cap-badges of the antecedent Regiments alongside the new. Clare is great to work with and her attention to detail is remarkable. Prince Edward and the wider Regiment are delighted with Clare’s artwork. Having been seen by Gen Sir Richard Shirreff at the ceremony, Clare was commissioned to create another design for The King’s Royal Hussars.
On a private note, I also commissioned Clare to draw and paint my dog, a red and white border collie. The likeness she has created is astonishing and the painting of Macs’ Dog will forever remind my family of our trusted friend.”
Lt Colonel Christopher MacGregor
Royal Wessex Yeomanry
The Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry
The story starts when a great friend of ours who was the then Colonel of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry approached me in the hope that we could design a piece of artwork upon his retirement. The idea was to produce a Roll of Honour to incorporate all the current serving soldiers names in his regiment and also to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. He had seen historic scrolls which had previously included the fallen soldiers, these were hundreds of years old and we were going to reinvent the idea.
It took about three or four months to design it, meeting once a week in The Gaskell Arms in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. It then took another four or five months to produce the artwork. Each name is measured out, handwritten in calligraphy with hand painted cap badges, each leaf is painstakingly drawn out and painted.
The Roll of Honour was presented to the regiment and there it sat, behind glass in the Officers Mess in Dawley Bank Barracks until it got spotted twelve years later.