About the Artist
I am inspired by art, I am alive because of art. I am inspired by life.
I suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) whilst commanding B Company, 2 Mercian in Afghanistan in 2009. My life changed irrevocably the moment the shrapnel exploded into my brain. In March 2012, after three years of rehabilitation, I was medically discharged from the Army.
My motivations and desires to do well within my abilities remain the same, but I cannot keep up with these aspirations due to my brain impairments. These difficulties fundamentally restrict what I can do in ‘work’ terms. My capacity to engage my brain in productive thinking is severely reduced.
Art was introduced to my life one year after my injury; fortuitously.
In October 2010, my wife and I were invited, along with three other couples from the Light Dragoons, to a benevolent holiday in Majorca for a week. Our invitation came from an adorable couple David Mynett and Shiela Peczenik who owned a holiday home near Port Pollensa. They had seen the media reports of scores of injured service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted to provide some comfort and rest by offering a free holiday. David, Shiela and their many ex pat friends on the island would host us as long as we could get to and from Majorca. Luckily for me they were friends with my Commanding Officer in Afghanistan, Gus Fair, which is how I was invited.
I consequently used painting and drawing as an escape for me when I became depressed. It freed me from my negative thoughts and allowed my mind to breathe. It allowed me to see that I could improve my life. It allowed me to see that life was worth living.
My wife and I determined in 2014 I should stop trying to live to the capability of my old brain and focus on my new abilities. We decided I should strive to become a professional artist.
My first ever oil painting was a portrait of a soldier of mine, Gavin Elliott, who was killed in action in 2009, which I gave to his mother. My most rewarding portrait was of Rupert Bowers, killed in action in 2012, that I gave to the Officers’ Mess 2 Mercian; we had served together in the same Battalion and on two tours in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2009. His widow Victoria gave me the best compliment I will ever receive when she saw the finished portrait “I just want to hug him”
I realised the emotional power of portraiture. This is why I want to be a portrait artist.
In 2015, I won the Armed Forces Art Society (AFAS) Exhibition’s Great Art Prize and the Army Art Society’s Exhibition Sir John Stibbon’s prize for my work Portrait of the Artist’s Wife. I also won the Great Art Prize at the AFAS 2017 exhibition at The Lighthouse Gallery in Glasgow for his self portrait ‘I AM’.
Military portraits are, and will continue to be, important to me but I have also undertaken portraits of people from all walks of life. See some examples of my work.
I have also found rehabilitation and a joy for living through other means: theatre work, writing, singing and participating in charitable causes. I am delighted to have raised over £90, 000 for charity over the last few years, in part by selling some of my artwork at charity events.