Falkirk artist puts her own stamp on the poppy

Fiona Strickland has had her watercolour of a poppy turned into a stamp for the Royal Mail, stamp design courtey of Royal Mail Group
Fiona Strickland has had her watercolour of a poppy turned into a stamp for the Royal Mail, stamp design courtey of Royal Mail Group
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Painting a poppy to be used on a stamp collection honouring the fallen of World War One was an emotional rollercoaster for artist Fiona Strickland.

She said: “I just kept thinking about all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war, and the conditions they faced both in the trenches and at home.

“The piece was very emotional for me, and I formed a close bond with it. I wanted to convey not only an accurate painting of a poppy, but also to do justice for what the poppy stands for.”

Fiona (58), who retired from teaching art at Bannockburn High School, was contacted by a design company working for The Royal Mail after they saw another poppy she had painted in watercolours.

Impressed by the emotive content in ‘Papaver, June Poppy’ they commissioned her to create a poppy for the Royal Mail which has now been turned into a first class stamp, one of six to be issuedcommemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War.

Fiona, who is married to former Braes High art teacher Robert McNeill and lives in Falkirk, took up watercolour painting in 2006 when she took early retirement.

“I had been an abstract artist since leaving art school in 1976, but something compelled me to start painting with watercolours - something I hadn’t done since college. The first thing I did happened to be a plant. It led to botanical painting and I was recognised fairly quickly.”

Fiona was accepted into The Society of Botanical Art in her first year of exhibiting. This led to worldwide demand for her work. She is now gearing up to open ‘Strictly Botanical’ at The Park Gallery in Callendar House.

Speaking as she set up the exhibit, Fiona said:“Curating an exhibition is a dream for most artists and I was honoured to be asked. With the exhibit and the stamp being released, it’s been fantastic year.”

Featuring many of her paintings and work from other celebrated botanical artists, the exhibition opens on Monday, November 10, and runs until January 17.

The exhibit includes the stamp design poppy, on loan from the Royal Mail Group.