Emma Willis MBE, who founded Style for Soldiers 10 years ago in 2008 in response to a documentary about the many and severe casualties being incurred in Afghanistan at the time and the charity's Patrons Lisa Armstrong, David Gandy, Maria Witchell and Lt. General Sir George Norton KBCO CBE will be showcasing the work of four military veterans suffering from PTSD and brain injury caused by action seen in predominantly Helmand, at La Galleria in Pall Mall between November 6th-18th, as well as paintings by Harry Parker and an extraordinary collection of Military memorabilia collected by Shaun Stocker. The show will exemplify how the creative process can help heal or manage mental injury, give insight to others of the invisible wound, and also aims to launch new careers for the four Soldier artists below.
In addition there will be portrait photographs by humanitarian photographer Giles Duley of the artists at work and Style for Soldiers Ambassadors Lt. Alex Horsfall, Shaun Stocker, Matt Weston and Andy Reid, who all incurred serious injuries serving their country in Afghanistan. Emma met Giles whilst measuring patients for bespoke clothing at Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Hospital . Giles was the only civilian to be treated at Headley due to the severity of his injuries in Helmand, losing three limbs in an IED blast having been invited on a military patrol with the US Marines. He has since gone back to front line and post conflict humanitarian photography, visiting Angola, Rwanda, Iraq and Syria in the last few months, documenting the long term impact of war.
On November 7th BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen will be in discussion on the long term impact of war, both having witnessed, documented and reported on the frontline for most of their career. He will be joined by the exhibiting artists to discuss their experiences and creative path.
On November 12th the Charities Patron Fashion Telegraph Director Lisa Armstrong and Ambassador David Gandy will discuss “The power of dressing” with injured service personnel Lt. Alex Horsfall, Matt Weston and Dr. Frances Townend and the powerful affect of clothes on morale and self esteem. The evening with be sponsored by Marks and Spencer who have donated over 750 suits to Style for Soldiers.
The show will also exhibit a short film “Art in the Aftermath” directed by David Gandy and Matt Weston’s short film starring Charles Dance, who kindly donated his time in support of the soldier artist. Matt will also be exhibiting his reproduction of the ‘Blue Bench’ carved by injured serviceman David Beech which will sit outside on Pall Mall recreating the benches on the road from Sidcup to now St. Mary’s Hospital in WW1 for those travelling to and from the hospital for treatment with the innovative plastic surgeon Harold Gilles. David Beeches’ hand carved bowls will also be on display.
Style for Soldiers Ambassador, Former Royal Welsh Fusilier Shaun Stocker, lost both legs and most of his vision in an IED blast in Afghanistan when he was 19 years old. Emma met him a year later at the Military Hospital and has followed his extraordinary paths of recovery since then. Shaun has become a passionate collector of Military medals awarded to his Regiment since the Napoleonic wars WW1, until today. He was inspired by the medals that both he and his Great Grand Father were awarded by Her Majesty The Queen both post injury in their wheelchairs.
Exhibition Sponsors so far include Barclays, Marks and Spencer, Lock & Co Hatters, Russell and Bromley and The Veterans Foundation.
Meet the Artists
Stewart Hill (see his Self Portrait, below) is portrait painter, poet and motivational speaker. Following severe Traumatic Brain injury incurred in Afghanistan whilst commanding B Company, 2 Mercian in Helmand in 2009, Stewart rediscovered a passion for painting and it’s vital healing properties as part of his long rehabilitation. Stewart has won several awards, including shortlisted this year for the RA Summer Exhibition and his paintings are on display in some leading galleries. Sir John Timpson OBE, The Duke of Bedford, Nick Knowles and Ray Winstone have all commissioned Stewart to paint their portraits. He is also an accomplished performing poet, writing about his experiences in the military with breathtaking power, conjuring up for the audience the horrors of the war in Afghanistan and responsibilities of military command. Stewart takes portrait commissions from all over the UK.
Martin Wade was medically discharged in 2015 following his diagnosis of PTSD in 2010 some three years after his return from Afghanistan. During a lengthy stay in a German Psychiatric Hospital he was encouraged to paint as part of a holistic approach to his therapy. He found a way to express creatively things he could not express in words.
Dougie Adams “On my Third tour of Afghanistan, Date 21st June 2012 I was involved in an IED incident.That’s where my injury comes from. I carried on until the September 2012. Lots had happened between the June and September which broke me. My best friend Duane Groom was killed in a IED incident 14th September 2012, he was Fijian. My last official duty as a Guardsman, 12hrs before I came back, was carrying his coffin onto a plane. He is buried in New Zealand. I was flown back on a medical flight. Did you hear of the Fijian baby born in Camp Bastion. I came back to Aldershot and was diagnosed with PTSD (September 2012. From then till I was discharged In 2014 I was at home in Northampton. I was engaged but that finished in 2013. I was discharged on 2014 with complex PTSD. I’ve further been diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury”.
Karl Tearney has discovered poetry and art since he was medically discharged with PTSD, poems pouring urgently out of him, and his 570 to date poems will be displayed on one wall titled ‘For Love of Words’ . He also speaks honestly and powerfully about mental illness and gives voluntary talks to the Ambulance Service to help them deal with traumatic work.
See more on the website, www.styleforsoldiers.com/pages/art-in-the-aftermath-1