Combat Art – Personal Reflections from Afghanistan
Menier Gallery, 51 Southwark St, London, SE1 1RU
Weds 25th March – Weds 1st April, 11am – 6pm excluding Sunday. Late opening Fri 27th March until 8pm.
Following the withdrawal of UK combat personnel from Afghanistan in October 2014, this groundbreaking exhibition provides a unique perspective on that conflict and its ongoing legacy. The presentation documents 40 Commando, Royal Marines’ last tour of Afghanistan (Herrick 17) where for the first time they had access to an extra piece of equipment – the Combat Art Kit. The bespoke camouflaged kits, distributed to Marines from all ranks, contain high quality art materials and fit neatly into a combat trouser pocket, enabling their use in any location. The kits acted as a vehicle for personal expression, initiating the creation of open, honest and contemplative responses – a snap-shot of experience as it happened. The resulting exhibition showcases the usually unseen creativity of Royal Marines whilst on active service. A number of Marines have generously chosen to share the contents of their kits with the wider public. These drawings and paintings are complemented by works including photography, objects and film, all made in the field.
As the benefits of using creativity and art to support physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing are becoming more widely recognised the project provides a pro-active support to this process. Positive feedback from the project is contributing to this body of evidence and we hope art can become a regular and accepted form of expression within the military and that ultimately the kits will become standard issue. The Combat Art Kit is the creative idea of Royal Marine widow Anita St John Gray who together with curator Tim Martin, artist Jon England and arts educator Stuart Rosamond developed the project. A variety of people from the Royal Marines including the former Commanding Officers at 40 Commando, Col M.J.A Jackson DSO, RM Lt Gen Gordon Messenger DSO and Bar, OBE, RM and Col Alan Hooper RM, have advised on the project. The initial project could not have gone ahead without funding from the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, Go Commando, Pardoes Solicitors, Brewin Dolphin Investment Management and recently CQC
‘Combat Art – Personal Reflections from Afghanistan’ was first shown at The Market House (West Wing), Taunton, Somerset, November 2013.
The following film captures the reflections of participants involved in the first Combat Art project.
The project begun by developing the kit alongside a film about its usage
Tim Martin hands over the kits to the Officers at 40 Commando Marine Base, August 2012.