Soldier's prosthetic leg immortalized at war museum
Painting of wounded sergeant's prosthetic leg now part of Canadian War Museum's collection
The prosthetic leg of a soldier wounded in Afghanistan has become a part of Canadian military history, immortalized on a canvas purchased by the Canadian War Museum.
Sgt. Bjarne Nielsen lost a leg in July 2010 after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol just southwest of Kandahar.
Ottawa artist Bruce Stewart decided to paint the prosthetic leg after visiting The Ottawa Hospital's Rehabilitation Centre to photograph it.
"It's kind of an eye-catching piece," Stewart said. "It's going to command your attention across a room because … it's got so much pain behind it. And I think that pain is reflected in there somewhere in the work. At least I hope it is. I tried to."
Stewart's painting and his drawing of another soldier were purchased by the museum this week.
"What I would love to do, if it would be at all possible, is to paint one picture of every artificial leg that came out of Afghanistan," Stewart said. "I don't know how many there are, I'm not sure if I want to know how many there are, but I think that would say an awful lot about the conflict and its cost. And it would also be a very, very powerful statement."
Stewart's art is expected to be part of the museum's future exhibits on Canada's role in Afghanistan.
Nielsen is taking part in the annual Army Run this weekend, which kicks off Friday at City Hall at 1 p.m.