Leominster artist's military masterpieces take off
In the past few years she has presented artwork to Prince Edward and is now getting commissions from military regiments all over the world – not bad for a former Shropshire Council environment protection officer.
Clare Villar creates painstaking calligraphy-based artwork and is just putting the finishing touches to a piece to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, a victory for the Canadian Corps in World War One that saw Prince Charles, William and Harry travel to France for commemorations in recent weeks.
It is just the latest in a long line of commissions for her work which have taken off since she took voluntary redundancy from Shropshire Council in 2014.
Her recent work has focussed on creating artworks made up of names, often hundreds, of either current or fallen soldiers for military regiments, though she also specialises in impeccably detailed studies of animals, and has been commissioned by non other than Nick Mason, drummer with the legendary Pink Floyd, to paint his family dogs in the past.
But she said it was the military art that was currently getting attention.
Clare said: "I am unaware of other artists producing my type of work having researched into it quite deeply.
"I never imagined in my wildest dreams that my military artwork would have taken off as it has and my only regret is that I didn't give up my day job years ago.
"I have just completed my first Canadian commission for the Kings Own Calgary Regiment and I have been asked to present it to the colonel in June in Calgary, which is being filmed by the Calgary television network.
"This was commissioned to honour the 150th anniversary of Canada, the 75th anniversary of the Raid on Dieppe and most importantly to commemorate the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.
"I am now working on the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment who are based in Germany and also the Grenadier Guards's roll of honour.
"I have approximately six or seven in the pipeline with enquiries flooding in.
"Each piece is hand written and hand painted, the largest commission to date has been approximately 600 names, each piece so far has included to date between 400 and 600 names.
"I have another Canadian enquiry which would include 1,300 names."
Clare, who lives at Yarpole, near Leominster worked for Shropshire Council's environment protection department in Ludlow for fourteen years but left to pursue her dream of being a full-time artist.
At that time she had already produced a roll of honour for a friend, a colonel with the Royal Mercian Lancastrian Yeomanry, to give to his regiment as his leaving present in 2002, which took about nine months to produce.
She said: "It sat in Dawley Bank barracks, Telford, for 12 years whereupon in 2014 it got spotted by the colonel of the Wessex Yeomanry who asked me to produce one for his regiment – which was presented to Prince Edward.
"On the back of that, Sir General Richard Shirreff commissioned me to produce one for his regiment the King Royal Hussars which was presented to Princess Anne in 2015."
Since then she has also done work for The 1st Battalion Scots Guards and 2nd Battalion the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment – the latter of which now sits in the palace of Queen Margarethe 11 of Denmark, who is the battalion's colonel in chief.
"Each piece of artwork to date has been A1 in size and they depict the current serving soldiers and officers names handwritten in calligraphy along with hand painted cap badges," she said.
She said the Canadian commission had come via making connections on professional social media site LinkedIn and she hoped more international work might come through the same channels – particularly from the hard to crack US market.
"My ultimate goal is to take my very unique military artwork to the US and with my sheer determination and hard work I really hope to fulfil my dream soon," she said.
She added that she also hoped to do artwork for the Navy and RAF.
For more information on Clare's work see her website www.clarevillar.com.