A group of Royal Army Medical Corps veterans, treated by veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, will have their artwork and poetry on display at Sandham Memorial Chapel in celebration of Armed Forces Day (30 June 2018).
The exhibition In Arduis Fidelis (Faithful in Adversity) will be held at the chapel in Burghclere, Hampshire, from Wednesday 27 June to Sunday 8 July (Wed – Sun only).
Owned by the National Trust, Sandham Memorial Chapel showcases the genius of Stanley Spencer who created it and the 19 paintings housed inside, depicting his experiences as a Royal Army Medical Corps orderly both at the Beaufort Hospital, Bristol, and then in Salonika, Greece, during the First World War.
One hundred years later, this exhibition gives visitors a glimpse into the world of former combat medics, with their artwork and poetry conveying how their mental health has been affected by war. It’s a reminder that for some veterans, the battle continues.
The veterans hope their work will encourage more former servicemen and women with mental health issues to seek help and not struggle in silence.
Jan Lobban, Senior Art Psychotherapist at Combat Stress, said: ‘This is a rare opportunity to see work that’s been created by veterans as part of their recovery from trauma. Art provides a channel for self-expression and for making sense of experiences when words aren’t enough. It gets to the heart of the matter.
“The exhibition captures actual memories of combat situations as well as symbolic representations of emotional responses. Viewers will be taken on a journey from the battlefield to a place of comradeship and recovery.”
A National Trust spokesperson said: “As a First World War Memorial and in this anniversary year marking the end of the Great War, it is a huge privilege to welcome the veteran’s work to Sandham and share it with our visitors. We know Spencer’s work at Sandham was very much a cathartic exercise which continues to resonate today. Mental health awareness is becoming much more widely recognised but there is still a long way to go. We hope that these works together with our other temporary exhibition “Salonika Reflections” also the product of those from the forces with mental health challenges will further highlight this important area”.
For more information and to read about some of the paintings on display, visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sandham-memorial-chapel/features/in-arduis-fidelis-faithful-in-adversity.