Art is an unlikely weapon in the battle against physical and mental injuries but one wounded veteran has praised its role in his personal struggle after winning an award at a recent exhibition.
Peter Cosgrove, 30 from Marden, Kent, was awarded with the top prize for the Wounded, Injured and Sick category for his drawing “Ration Trench” at the recent Army Arts Exhibition in Salisbury. Peter is a regular attendee at Art sessions at Help for Heroes Recovery Centre, Tedworth House.
Peter was just six weeks from finishing his tour of Afghanistan when his vehicle was hit by an IED strike. He had already completed a six month tour of Iraq when he was posted to Afghanistan in 2009 with the 2nd Royal Tank regiment. Unfortunately, due to the enemy bomb he had broken his left leg in three places and shattered his left foot, forcing doctors to literally wire his foot back together. Along with the physical injuries, Peter also has to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He said that although he thinks about the blast nearly every day, Art helps him cope with the stress and his emotions and causes him to put aside his memories, if only for a short time.
“Art has definitely been a form of communication for me,” he said. “It gives you freedom. Sometimes you don’t want to talk and Art helps me express myself. I enjoyed Art at school and being able to pick it up again through the sessions at Tedworth House has been amazing for me.
“If you are having a bad day or just want to forget about your problems for a while, I know that if I start drawing I will be able to escape from it all.”
Peter explained how his artwork, including his award-winning piece, often reflects his own experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“For me, war involves a lot of waiting around, waiting for things to happen. My drawings often reflect that, including Ration Trench. It shows soldiers in the trench, preparing for battle and keeping themselves occupied.
“It meant a lot to me to win the award. I was really surprised but absolutely delighted when it was announced.
“Even though I’ve left the army, recovery doesn’t stop on your discharge date, instead it becomes part of you. Art plays a vital role in that for me.”
The Army Arts Society was set up by war artist Linda Kitson after the Falklands War. It promotes and supports arts and crafts within the British Army, working with both serving and veteran members of the Armed Forces.
At Help for Heroes Recovery Centre Tedworth House, Art plays a big role in the recovery of wounded, injured and sick men and women. Those on the Rolling Recovery Programme have weekly art sessions and others can book one-to-one lessons with art teacher Jenny Arthy as well as join in regular art workshops.