Veterans’ art exhibition is powerful stuff

PUBLISHED: 14:17 11 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:46 13 February 2014

Tony Byrne, pictured with his original Red Arrows painting.

Tony Byrne, pictured with his original Red Arrows painting.

Archant

Art to Recovery at the Petroc Brannams’ Goodwin Gallery gives an insight into the ongoing battle faced by former service personnel.

POWERFUL artwork by service veterans who have put down the gun and picked up a paintbrush or pen forms the basis of a new exhibition in Barnstaple.

Art to Recovery is running at the Goodwin Gallery on the Petroc Brannams campus throughout February, with the exception of half term week from February 17-21.

It has been organised by Bideford artist and former soldier Tony Byrne, 51, and is based around work and poems created by service personnel, combat veterans and their families as a way to deal with the trauma they have suffered.

Mr Byrne said the exhibition had already attracted plenty of interest and the gallery had invited them to stage a similar event next year:

“This is about raising awareness of the issues servicemen have – just because they don’t have a missing limb doesn’t mean they don’t have issues,” he said.

“It also helps people to understand why these guys return the way they sometimes do. There are some 40-odd images so far, including some from artists as far afield as Poland, but mainly from Devon and the West Country.

“There is a lot of information explaining the reasons behind the artwork and the poetry, some of which is quite hard to read, but it certainly tells their story.”

* Please note correction: Proceeds from a signed print of his own Red Arrows painting, which was auctioned off last year together with a signed print of sea king commando ZA298, were donated at the opening of the Art to Recovery exhibition to representatives from RMB Chivenor for the base memorial garden. We apologise for the error said it was being auctioned off during the exhibition.

Mr Byrne hopes to use the exhibition as a springboard to set up a support organisation in this part of the world, possibly a branch of the FV2 Forces Veterans For Veterans group now in Exmouth.

The Goodwin Gallery at Petroc Brannams is open from 10am-4pm each day when the campus is open.

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