Saturday Portfolio: The art of war, as seen by real soldiers

Servicemen's paintings
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The Independent Culture

As a Royal Navy gunner, John Mc Dermott stood on his warship during the Falklands conflict and saw HMS Antelope being blown up.

Upon his return to San Carlos Bay on the 25th anniversary of the disaster, he learned that Navy divers annually replace the White Ensign on the sunken hull.

His painting Battle Ensign reflects how these hidden flags represent the unseen wounds of so many who have survived combat.

The painting is among artworks produced by former and current servicemen and women being exhibited at Exeter Castle from this weekend. Entrance to War Art, which aims to foster understanding between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers and the wider community, will be free to the public from today.

For Barry John MBE, a Colour Sergeant in the Royal Welsh Regimen, his painting City at Night, with Riots was inspired by memories of Belfast. "The red glow of burning against the black night sky, then crashing, loud sounds and shouting with the acrid smell of burning cars," is imprinted on his mind.

Of his painting Scream, former Royal Navy Falklands veteran Brian Power said he had tried to capture the essence of PTSD: "The individual primal scream rising from the base of the spine, the gut and from within the head to form in silence."

Former RAF Fighter Controller Diane Hughes said she painted Blood Sacrifice in disgust at former Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement that Iraq was "worth the blood sacrifice".

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