The judge for the Artists’ Prize in 2021 is no ordinary artist.
Robert McNeil MBE, a forensic technician in his professional life, turned to his love of art when he retired in 2009.
As well as performing his day-job in Glasgow between 1996 and 2009, Robert was also responsible for coordinating and sorting out carnage following modern-day events that are beyond most people’s worst imaginings.
As a forensic technician working for the United Nations, Robert McNeil did the most vital of the world’s dirty jobs. He cleaned up after war and brought war criminals to justice for genocide and crimes against humanity, using dead bodies as evidence. From 1996 to 2009 Robert combined his day job in NHS mortuaries in Glasgow with an extraordinary hidden life – he travelled the world exhuming bodies and helping to solve crimes. He worked in the concentration camps of Bosnia and Kosovo, most notably after the Srebrenica massacre, the first genocide in Europe since the Holocaust. He was then sent on a dangerous assignment to Sierra Leone. He worked on “the Missing” in Ireland and was an advisor to the British Government after the war in Iraq, the London bombings of 7/7 and the tsunami in Thailand, setting up and leading inquiry teams. Latterly he managed the exhumation and identification of World War One soldiers for the British and Commonwealth War Graves Commission.Melanie Reid MBE, The Times
Robert is an Ambassador for Remembering Srebrenica UK as well as a UNESCO RILA Affiliate Artist, speaking about the consequences of hate crimes as well as using Art as Therapy. In his own words,
I felt compelled to paint images of the atrocities I’d witnessed during my forensic work. This led to exhibitions around the UK including in the Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh Assembly.
Among those who have acquired my paintings are: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; St Mungo’s Museum of Culture & Religion, Glasgow; Musée de la Bataille de Fromelles, France; Memorium Nuremberg Trials, Germany; and the National History Museum, Sarajevo.”
We are indeed grateful that Robert has agreed to judge this year’s Artists’ Prize, which we will announce on 2 April.