Sidmouth veteran exhibits art which helped him overcome traumas

Some of Martin's work.

Some of Martin's work. - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth veteran who fell in love with painting when trying to overcome post-traumatic stress will be showcasing his work in a special exhibition.

Some of Martin's work.

Some of Martin's work. - Credit: Archant

Martin Dunkin, served in the Falklands War in 1982 and supported the British Army Base in Lebanon during the Civil War in between 1983 and 1984.

The 56-year-old suffered a breakdown in 2003 and was diagnosed with PTSD. Martin was then referred to Combat Stress - the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

Martin said: “I was asked if I had any hobbies. I replied that I did - drinking and smoking. I was informed by the lady in charge of the Occupational Therapy Department that these were not hobbies and was encouraged and told it might be beneficial to try some art.

“She put some oil paints and a canvas in front of me and I explained to her that I had never painted and picture before and I wouldn’t be able to do it.

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“My school reports from the 1970s were consistent, I got E for art every year, with the comment ‘tries hard but achieves little’.

“However, during my 13 years attending Combat Stress I was encouraged to paint and began to achieve some success.”

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Painting enabled Martin to overcome his traumas and stop drinking.

He sold his first piece of artwork at the Mall Galleries in London in an exhibition put on by The Ex Forces Art Society and is still continuing to sell his originals and prints.

Martin’s exhibit will be on show at South West Art, in Old Fore Street, Sidmouth for the next couple of months and all are invited to go along and have a look at his spectacular display.

Lynsey Pickwell, of South West Art, said: “Martin is such a lovely and funny chap, who has overcome such enormous obstacles in his life since serving in the forces.

“I would really like to get him and his work out there and try to boost his confidence in his paintings by getting some public interest in his work and also bring attention to the excellent charity that helped him along the way too.

“As well as this, his story proves how beneficial art is for your mental health.”

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