Painting Away The Pain: How Can Creativity Help Injured Personnel To Recover?

It seems appropriate to reflect on the importance of art in warfare for the last year of the First World War centenary.

At first, the Great War generated patriotic poems like 'In Flanders Fields', and then, in time, the haunting and cynical poetry of those like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

Visual arts also became a part of this process, as Tate Britain's current exhibit 'Aftermath' shows.

In recent times, those like RAF veteran Tom Stimpson have found that art continues to be useful for recovery from psychological issues that may have developed as a result of military service:

"It's a bit like the iceberg in the sea... you are cold and numb from your experiences that you have and I think it takes time for you to start to recover... (but, art has) been my saviour."

Mr Stimpson's work was part of a recent exhibit at the Mall Galleries in central London, called 'Creative Force'.

The show, organised by Help for Heroes, features only artists who have been supported by the charity.

Mall Galleries exhibit Creative Force
Sculptures, sketches and poetry from 80 other personnel and veterans who've used creativity to assist in medical recovery were also on display.

Royal Navy veteran Nick Richardson, for example, has found model making to be therapeutic for him:

"It's not (a form of) distraction, because I'm always going to have pain, but it means that I have the satisfaction that I've done something constructive rather than just sat in front of the television."

RAF veteran and painter Kevin Preston added that painting has changed his life and gave him a new career.

With seven personnel now medically discharged from the military every day, these artists encourage more of their comrades to use art to help with the journey to recovery.

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


RAF C-17 becomes biggest aircraft to land on tiny remote island

Ukraine war: What we know about the destroyed Nova Kakhovka dam

Inside the world of an RAF fighter pilot policing Nato's Baltic skies