Novembers Print Release is ’Bear with a Sore Head’
Signed & Numbered Archival Print on 315gsm Paper
’The hats were first worn by British soldiers in 1815, following the defeat of Napoleon’s French Imperial Guards at the battle of Waterloo. The French grenadiers wore bearskins to appear taller and more intimidating, and Britain adopted the towering hats for soldiers in ceremonial duties and guarding royal residencies as a symbol of their victory.’
The standard bearskin of the British Foot Guards is 18 inches tall, weighs 1.5 pounds and is made from the fur of the Canadian black bear. However, an officer’s bearskin is made from the fur of the Canadian brown bear as the female brown bear has thicker, fuller fur and is dyed black. An entire skin is used for each hat.
In 1997, Minister for Defence Procurement Lord Gilbert said that he wanted to see bearskins phased out as soon as possible due to ethical concerns, but no replacement was available at that time.
In 2005, the Ministry of Defence began a two-year test of artificial fur for the hats. The army has already replaced beaver hats and leopard skins, worn by some of its soldiers, with artificial materials. In March 2005, Labour MP Chris Mullin called for an immediate ban on bearskin hats stating that they "have no military significance and involve unnecessary cruelty."
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has protested against the continued use of real fur for the guards’ hats, alleging that the animals are killed cruelly. For several years, PETA members have held demonstrations, including one at St. Peter’s Hill, near St Paul’s Cathedral, in 2006. PETA wants the fur hats to be replaced with synthetic materials and claims that the Ministry of Defence has not done enough to find alternatives. In February 2011, Joss Stone appeared in a PETA advert targeting the Ministry of Defence, showing the 23-year-old soul singer holding a teddy bear that covers her naked body and features the slogan ’Bear Hugs, Not Bear Caps’."
Army officials say approximately 100 skins are taken every year from the annual cull of thousands of bears by native Inuit hunters in a Canadian government programme to keep numbers under control.
Date: 10th November 2014
bear with a sore head
Limited Edition Print