A Grateful Farewell: Celebrating the Printmaking Journey with the Veterans
Having reviewed the events of this month alone, there is both gratitude and fulfilment in my heart. The journey embarked upon with the Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) organisation has been nothing short of remarkable. Together, we have explored the world of printmaking, discovering its therapeutic power and witnessing the positive impact it can have on well-being.
The Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) is an organisation dedicated to supporting veterans, serving military personnel, and their families in their journey towards mental and emotional well-being. Through a range of services, including counselling, therapy, and holistic support, VOS aims to provide assistance and resources to those who have served their country. With a focus on mental health, VOS offers a safe space for veterans to access the help they need and to navigate the challenges that often accompany their transition to civilian life.
My journey from pandemic lockdowns corporate burnout to the world of printmaking has driven my passionate commitment to enhancing the lives of veterans. Through personal experience, I’ve witnessed the healing impact of art. This transformation has inspired me to intricately hand-carve print blocks, aiming to provide veterans with a means of healing, connecting, and redefining their stories.
From the early 2021 beginnings, it was clear that printmaking struck a chord with the veterans. Fast forward to 2022, amidst the evolving journey, an insightful revelation surfaced – the veterans’ interest predominantly resided in the act of printing itself, rather than the intricate processes of carving surfaces, be it lino, speedy cut or soft blocks. This realisation was pivotal and guided our path forward.
With this understanding, I made a commitment to provide a tailored experience that resonated with their preferences. The concept of printmaking workshop providing hand-crafted, bespoke blockprints was born, allowing the veterans to immerse themselves in the joy of printmaking without the complexities of carving/gouging/cutting and mark-making.
This endeavour encompassed more than just a financial investment – it was an embodiment of my personal commitment, both in terms of resources and dedication. Beyond the organisation’s financial support for tools and materials in the workshop sessions, I wholeheartedly invested my own financial resources, time, and immense effort into this collaboration since July 2021. This journey was marked not only by the tangible contributions of tools and materials, as well as by the countless hours of intricate carving, thoughtful preparation, and passionate engagement with each workshop. Nothing short than a substantial dedication of my personal time, commitment, and effort.
The joy of seeing the veterans engage passionately in the printmaking sessions, with their creativity flowing freely, brought me immense contentment. This journey was not just about artistic expression; it was about creating a space of belonging and fostering a sense of accomplishment.
Responding to the veterans’ strong inclination towards the print-stamping aspect of printmaking – combined with the fact that 2023 marks the 15th Anniversary of the VOS organisation – earlier this year I focussed on meticulously hand-carving intricate block prints featuring ships crests and badges of the HMS Antrim and HMS Minerva. These two ships stand as symbolic representatives among the many that ventured to the Falklands, serving as a poignant tribute to the very essence of the Veterans Outreach Support – the Falklands veterans themselves. This undertaking required more than just my personal financial investment; it demanded a substantial dedication of time and effort. It was a commitment rooted in my deep respect for their experiences and my aim for the veterans to be able to encapsulate their stories within the very prints they would create.
As we approach the 17th of October, our final printmaking workshop date, I encourage all those registered with the Veterans Outreach Support organisation to secure their spaces, as availability and spaces are limited. This marks the culmination of our collaboration, a journey that was deeply enriching and meaningful.
While we bid adieu to this chapter, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the veterans for their participation and openness. I’m also grateful to the VOS organization for their partnership and shared dedication to our mission. While our collaboration may be concluding, the impact it has had on me and, I hope, on the veterans, is profound.
Here I would also like to emphasise an important alteration in my approach. Regrettably, I will no longer be able to offer the video tutorials that were once a part of my idea for our collaboration. This decision has been prompted by a significant insight that is confirmed again and again over our time together. Through my interactions and conversations with the veterans, it was abundantly clear that their primary interest lies in the hands-on process of printing and stamping, rather than delving into the intricacies of carving lino blocks. This realisation has led me to reshape our strategy, ensuring that our offerings are precisely aligned with their preferences and aspirations. While the video tutorials held their own value, this shift underscores my unwavering dedication to crafting experiences that genuinely resonate with the veterans and enhance their connection with the creative journey.
In closing, I wish the Veterans Outreach Support organization continued success in their vital mission. As we each continue on our respective journeys, let’s carry forward the spirit of creativity, connection, and service that defined our time together. Thank you for being part of this meaningful chapter in both my journey and the lives of the veterans served.
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