STYLE for Soldiers, a charity founded by Emma Willis in response to the numerous casualties incurred in Iraq and Afghanistan, has launched an exhibition of painting, poetry, sculpture and film by injured service personnel celebrating the psychological healing powers of creativity. The exhibition, held at 47-51 Kings Walk Shopping Centre in Gloucester city centre, runs until Christmas.
Emma founded Style for Soldiers ten years ago in response to the severe casualties returning from Afghanistan at the height of the conflict. Struck by the challenge these young men and women would face post-medical discharge having suffered life-changing injuries, Emma started visiting Headley Court military hospital every two months for eight years to make complimentary clothing to help with self-esteem and confidence.
She has built a database of more than 750 injured service personnel who the charity continues to support with clothing for interviews, new jobs and important occasions.
Through regular contact with the servicemen and women, Emma has met several who have turned to art and poetry to help with the psychological healing process, resulting in last November’s ‘Art in the Aftermath’ exhibition in London, showcasing art, poetry and film created by former servicemen suffering from PTSD or brain injury, as well as the paintings and drawings of Harry Parker, who was physically injured by a IED explosion.
The charity has now awarded seven arts sponsorships, and each has resulted in the start of successful careers. ‘Art in the Aftermath’ moved to Sheffield in July as part of the Invictus Trials and is now in Gloucester.
The exhibition will also show powerful images of Emma’s visits to Headley Court hospital, as well as photographic portraits of injured soldiers dressed immaculately by Style for Soldiers for a photo shoot by top fashion photographers Ben Weller and Boo George to show the importance of smart clothes for morale and self-confidence when transitioning into civilian life and careers.
The exhibition will also show veterans’ short films, including former Royal Engineer and triple amputee Matt Weston’s ‘For Love of Words’, starring Style for Soldiers ambassador Charles Dance.
Artists will be in residence throughout the exhibition.