A RETIRED soldier from Crymych is living proof that art therapy can help to rehabilitate injured veterans.
The award-winning work of Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Hill has been displayed at the annual Armed Forces Art Society exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.
Painting is a far cry from the 42-year-old’s army service days, when he was in command of B Company, 2 Mercian in Afghanistan.
On July 4, 2009 Lt Col Hill was leading 160 men in a close combat fight against the Taliban in some of the fiercest fighting seen by UK forces in Afghanistan.
They were in an area that had been swept for improvised explosive devices, but one had escaped detection and it was stood on by a Lance Corporal who was killed.
Lt Col Hill also suffered devastating injuries, including shrapnel on the brain.
He spent the next two-and-a-half years in rehabilitation and now suffers from a lack of functioning skills, which led to him being medically discharged from the army.
Faced with a life of anger, depression and a lack of identity, he was introduced to painting by artist David Mynett while on holiday. Prior to that he had not picked up a brush since taking O-Level art some 20 years before at Ysgol y Preseli.
His talent was evident from the start with one of his early works, an acrylic of C Company, The Royal Welsh taking pride of place in the Battalion’s Officers’ Mess.
More recent work from the dad-of-two is a portrait of his former colleague, Captain Rupert Bowers of 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment who was killed in Afghanistan in March 2012.
Mr Hill told the Western Telegraph: “I adore painting; it is magical, therapeutic and exciting. To paint is to be alive. I become sucked into the subject and do not find the process exhausting. I am able to do this, which is the only thing I have managed to do wholeheartedly since my injury.
“I want to aspire to be recognised as a war artist. I have a wealth of ideas based on my experiences and wish to show this in my work. I do not want to glamorise war nor be anti war, but show the emotional impact of war on the many lives involved.”
Mr Hill now lives with his wife Melissa and daughters Annabel and Olivia in Nottingham.