Combat Art is underway in Afghanistan
The Royal Marines from 40 Commando, based in Taunton, are on their final tour of Afghanistan and for the first time for this type of deployment they have access to an extra
piece of military kit – the Combat Art Kit.
Distributed to 500 Marines from all ranks, the Combat Art Kit is the brainchild of Taunton
resident Anita St John Gray.
Together with Tim Martin, visual arts coordinator at The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre in Taunton and artist Jon England, the kit has been designed specifically to offer Commandos the opportunity of documenting and reflecting on their work in Afghanistan.
A variety of people from the Royal Marines have helped to develop the project, including the Commanding Officer at 40 Commando, Lt Col M.J.A. Jackson RM and Rev Paul Andrew Chaplain RN who is in regular contact with the team back home and who is leading Combat Art on the ground in Afghanistan.
The camouflaged Combat Art Kit, a 40 Commando branded zipped waterproof pouch, fits
neatly into a trouser pocket. It contains high quality art materials including a sketch pad or
journal and watercolour paper, watercolour paints, brushes, pens and pencils.
There are also written instructions inside to offer ideas on how to use the kits. These ‘idea
cards’ will offer ways of using the kit together with other pieces of equipment, found objects and so on to record thoughts, experiences and observations. The aim is for all Marines at all levels to use the kits in ways they find useful. This may be by creating images, words or objects, or a combination of all three, to express and record daily or unusual events.
The benefits of using creativity and art to support both physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing have been well documented over the past 30 years and it is hoped that the Marines will not only see the Combat Art Kit as a natural extension of their larger deployment kit, but will also find them useful as a way of expressing personal thoughts and feelings.
As well as creating art for its own sake, the hope is that the Combat Art Kits will help the
Marines emotional and mental wellbeing.
As Pablo Picasso said: ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’
On the Marines return from Afghanistan there will be a period of gathering and curating the individual materials brought back. There will be both individual and group prizes for the most interesting response to using the kit. An exhibition will be developed with 40 Commando that will be installed at The Brewhouse Gallery in Sept/Oct 2013. It is also hoped that the exhibition will tour to other venues around the country.
The project could not have gone ahead without funding from the Royal Marines Charitable
Trust Fund and from Go Commando amounting to £10,000. The organisers are currently
seeking just £3,000 more to develop the resulting exhibitions.
Tim Martin says: “With the number of kits we have in the field at the moment we are certain that we will be able to create an impressive exhibition. However, interest in the kits amongst people serving in Afghanistan is high and we have had requests for more, and so the more additional funds we can raise the more extra kits we can send out.”
If you would like to donate please go to www.thebrewhouse.net/donate.php and to see the
film associated with the project please visit www.thebrewhouse.net/learning/combat-art or contact email@example.com
13 November 2012
The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre, Taunton
Located in Somerset’s county town of Taunton, The Brewhouse offers a varied programme
of events for all ages including drama, dance, comedy, music, workshops, exhibitions and
poetry. Its gallery presents a programme of exhibitions featuring work from both local and
Our mission is to be a creative hub for the region, continually offering high quality experiences which entertain, stimulate, involve and inspire the many diverse communities we serve.
We also provide an oasis for artists and creatives to meet and engage with the community
through sharing of work, workshops, mentoring and participatory events. At the heart of what we do is the promotion of culture and the understanding of how it can enhance and enrich people’s lives.
Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund www.rmctf.org.uk
Our challenge is to raise £6M by the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines in 2014 so that we can better support the:
Recovery Pathway: Helping the wounded and injured in any way we can, particularly as the most severely injured begin their transition into civilian life; quite simply, the RMCTF will help when others cannot.
Decompression/Quality of Life Pathway: Helping those still serving and facing successive
tours in high threat environments – providing adventure training for those returning from
operations, funding homecoming events, financing memorials, maintaining our heritage etc.
Through Life Pathway: Continuing the same level of support and care once the beneficiaries break their formal links to the Corps.
Sadly, but importantly, the RMCTF also provides a grant to the next of kin of those who die in service within 48 hours of the event.
Go Commando www.gocommando.org.uk
Go Commando was founded in Taunton in November 2010, following overwhelming support for the men of 40 Commando during and after the Herrick 12 tour in Afghanistan.
It is now a national charity, supporting all Royal Marines and their families. The tempo of
deployment is unrelenting and the pressures on Royal Marines and their families are great.
We recognise the burden on families when the men deploy and aim to provide support for
them: many women find themselves miles from family, raising small children on their own
whilst their men are at war or carrying out training.