Artwork by local servicemen and women wounded in conflict around the world is on public display in Manchester city centre exploring the value that art can have in recovery.
The veterans’ work, displayed as part of a poignant exhibition chronicling their journey back from life-changing injury and trauma with the aid of charity Help for Heroes (H4H), appears alongside the artists’ inspirational stories of bravery and resilience.
The exhibition features paintings by Alan Izzard, a former forward observer for the Royal Artillery whose 13-year military career saw him serve tours in Iraq, Bosnia, Cyprus and the Gulf. He retired from the military with an exemplary discharge, but, two years later, the hidden effects of Alan’s tours began to surface until they became unmanageable.
Alan, a dad-of-two from Hyde, rekindled his passion for art while on the road to recovery with Help for Heroes following a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He said: “Part of PTSD is that you suffer flashbacks. Because I was struggling to express some of the issues I was having, I’d find it easier to write it down or put it into a picture. We’d sketch some of the images and rip them up to get that image out of you.”
Alan, 46, who fulfilled his dream of serving in the armed forces when he signed up at the age of 17, said: “I treat it as a positive. What I’m trying to do is not only show that out of darkness can come some positives and that the work people can produce has meaning, but also open up the conversation about mental health, to dispel the stigma around the condition which prevents people opening up about the way they feel and seeking help and treatment.”
A preview evening, hosted by law firm Slater and Gordon, was held on Thursday 6 April, featuring speeches from Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan and H4H Head of Recovery North, David McNeill. Coronation Street star and H4H ambassador, Antony Cotton, also attended.
Help for Heroes Head of Recovery North, David McNeill, said: “Long-term recovery is more than repairing damaged bodies and minds; it’s about rebuilding lives.
“Art and woodcraft are just some of the wide range of activities provided by Help for Heroes to inspire our heroes to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives, enabling them to reach their full potential and supporting them and their families for life.”
The Art of Recovery Exhibition of Art and Woodcraft is on display to the public at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, 58 Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3HZ from Friday 7 April until Wednesday 31 May 2017.