martin firrell

complete hero

november 2009

the british army

700 images

Complete Hero was commissioned by Major General William Cubbitt for the Household Division of the British Army.

Text, portraiture and video interviews were projected onto the West and North elevations of the Royal Military Chapel - the Guard's Chapel - 4-10 November 2009.

The project aimed to create a contemporary definition of heroism, including creative and scientific examples, and reflecting the more sexually equal and multi-cultural nature of British society in the 21st century.

Members of the public were invited to contribute their ideas via the project blog. Video interviews were conducted with serving members of the British Army including a senior female officer, Major Fiona Laws, and Johnson Beharry holder of the Victoria Cross, the highest honour in the British Army; and with civilians from contrasting walks of life where the concept of heroism might be equally but differently applied.

Interviewees included cell biologists Dr Jennifer Rohn and Dr Adam Rutherford; drag performer Miss Understanding; philosopher A C Grayling; novelist Howard Jacobson; writer Adam Nicolson, British muslim comedian Shazia Mirza; and Canadian actor Nathan Fillion who also served as the face of the project.

April Ashley MBE contributed her story as one of the first people in the world to have gender confirmation surgery. Ashley's courage and grace in the face of daunting odds were celebrated as acts of contemporary and complete heroism.

Text, graphics and video interviews were presented onto the 1960s modernist elevations of the Guards' Chapel with sound delivered by wireless headsets to the audience in the concourse by the West Front.

Each video interview was presented in multiples: 5 identical talking heads repeated across the width of the West elevation and 6 silent heads across the wider North elevation.

Complete Hero was presented nightly in the lead-up to remembrance Sunday.