Pembrokeshire’s VC Gallery has partnered up to create a first-of-its kind veterans’ exhibition to coincide with Armistice and Remembrance Day.

Running at Turner House Gallery in Penarth, the exhibition brings together original artwork made by dozens of forces veterans from across Wales. The show also features historical trench art from WWI plus two lectures on art and war.

The show, titled Veterans, Family, Wales, was organised by two charities that work with veterans: The VC Gallery, which has bases in Pembroke Dock and Haverfordwest, and Woody’s Lodge, which is headquartered in Barry and runs a range of initiatives across Wales, including 12 drop-in centres.

Both charities help veterans tackle issues such as social exclusion and PTSD, which are disproportionately high among ex-forces personnel. One important source of therapy and connection is art. The VC Gallery was founded by Welsh army veteran and professional artist Barry John, and has art at its core. Woody’s Lodge also offers a range of art activities, from watercolour classes for veterans with dementia to glass art workshops.

The show features work by nearly 100 forces and blue light veterans, much of it made after the charities arranged trips to the Imperial War Museum, the Houses of Parliament in London and the Royal Welsh Regimental Museum in Brecon.

The artwork in the show covers everything from historical conflicts to more recent experiences in war zones. From the Eastern and Western Front of the First World War come repurposed shell and bullet casings decorated in the trenches. From modern-day veterans come paintings reflecting experiences in places such as Northern Ireland, Kosovo, the Balkans, and the Falklands.

L-R front row_ Sam Dinsdale-Brown, Barry John MBE,  Wendy Scott - Woody's Lodge fundraising managager,  David Trotman. Back row - Turner House staff
L-R front row - Sam Dinsdale-Brown, Barry John MBE, Wendy Scott - Woody’s Lodge fundraising manager, David Trotman. Back row - Turner House staff (Pic supplied)

Samantha Dinsdale- Brown, an RAF veteran and one of the artists, said: “To have this opportunity with Turner House in Penarth is absolutely fantastic. I thought that my art would never have the chance to get a platform like this, and since I've been painting I’ve taken on a new lease of life. It’s amazing to be able to exhibit alongside so many other powerful pieces of work.”

The angels sweep in - Danny King REME
The angels sweep in - Danny King, REME (Pic supplied)

Besides the main exhibition, Turner House Gallery will be hosting two lectures to coincide with the show: Artists at Arms, A History of Art & Conflict on Monday November 6 from 6-8pm; and Culture in Catastrophe, Artists & The First World War on Monday November 13 from 6-8pm.

VC Gallery founder Barry John said that he was delighted to be facilitating the exhibition in collaboration with Woody’s Lodge.

“People have had the opportunity to be creative around their trauma or share a message with the rest of Wales,” he says. “Some of the artworks really touch base with some historical war artists such as Graham Sutherland, so there's a real feel of Welsh heritage running through the show, and it gives a lot of non-military people the chance to see into another world.”

CEO of Woody Lodge David Trotman
CEO of Woody’s Lodge David Trotman (Pic supplied)

Woody’s Lodge CEO David Trotman added: “Woody’s was formed here in Penarth, so it’s great to be holding this exhibition here. I hope it will give these artists a presence that will be seen and heard by our politicians and decision-makers. But one of the greatest outcomes for me would be able to take this exhibition on tour. We hope to take it to north Wales and West Wales, and ultimately to somewhere like the Imperial War Museum.”

Ron Taylor Porthcawl RAF
(Ron Taylor Porthcawl RAF)

The exhibition runs at Turner House Gallery, Penarth, until November 19. For more information and to book tickets to the lectures, visit: