BATTLE:CRY opens at the James Hockey Gallery at UCA Farnham on 26th September.

Postcards From My Past installation - J Jewitt-Harris

The exhibition explores the experiences of combat PTSD and is an artistic response to Stepping out of the Shadows, a collection of short stories by Dr Lynn Hamilton due to be launched on 6th October this year. The stories are Hamilton’s creative response to her PhD research into the portrayal of PTSD in fiction. The artworks have been created by fellow UCA PhD researcher Dr Jennie Jewitt-Harris, who explores psychological and medical issues and how experiences influence and shape us, through collage, painting, and installations; and by sound artist Oliver Jewitt-Harris, whose sound artwork responds to the PTSD triggers in the short stories, demonstrating their insidious and invasive nature for the sufferer.

Spanning a century, the stories in Stepping out of the Shadows take the reader beyond the current stereotypical  portrayals of PTSD, aiming to offer a broader, more holistic picture of what it means to be affected by trauma. According to Lynn, “We commonly see the ‘broken hero’ stereotype – where PTSD remains in the shadows, the ill-explained trigger of outbreaks of anger or violence – in fiction and drama. The broader impact on family or friends is often absent, and there are few insights into symptom management or a path to recovery. I wanted to see if fiction could be used to disassemble these negative stereotypes and build greater empathy and understanding towards those experiencing PTSD”. Audio and printed extracts of the short stories feature in BATTLE:CRY. In the title story, an elderly man’s war-time memories are re-ignited by his neighbour’s chain-smoking, in Bare Bones, a lonely ghost writer struggles to move beyond cliché and stereotype to understand his friend’s illness, and in Enough, a wife decides she’s had enough, it’s time for life to change before it’s too late.

The installation Postcards From My Past by artist Jennie Jewitt-Harris reflects the transient and often repetitive nature of the ‘action replays’ experienced with PTSD – each postcard represents the memories that sit, suspended and unprocessed in the brain’s neural network. The postcards, made of recycled packaging, are painted and collaged images related to war-time experience. Some are triggered by everyday experiences such as a day at the beach, a bicycle ride, or just the smell of a certain cigarette. Others concern repeated flashbacks that are often confusing, intrusive and unclear.  Jennie said, “This artwork is created in response to Lynn’s writing and is in honour of the many brave soldiers whose images appear in the postcards,  those who fought alongside them, and all the photographers who risked so much for the poignant, arresting images that form the basis for the "memories" depicted in this artwork.”

Sleepless Dreams, the sound artwork created by sound designer Oliver Jewitt-Harris explores how, for those with PTSD, certain sounds can be linked to their experience of a traumatic event. Every time they hear a certain noise, it can trigger the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response and the fear and anxiety they felt at the time. The reactions to sounds can include an exaggerated startle response, a fear of certain sounds, and a difficulty in tolerating a sound at a level that would be fine for people unaffected by trauma. In Sleepless Dreams, everyday sounds are interrupted by those associated with traumatic memory or presented in a way that demonstrates the link between managing everyday life and coping with traumatic memories. The work goes beyond the stereotypical triggers we encounter in books and in films and instead focuses on the impact of sound associated with everyday events that people affected by PTSD have to navigate every day.

The exhibition runs from 26th September to 21st October at James Hockey Gallery, University for the Creative Arts, Faulkner Road, Farnham GU9 7DS, open Monday-Friday 10-5pm. The private view and artists’ talks, together with representatives from Combat Stress take place on 6th October 5-8pm with artists talks at 6.30pm, marking the launch of Stepping out of the Shadows on Kindle Publishing. BATTLE:CRY is supported by the University for the Creative Arts and Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health. 

For further information and images contact:

Jennie Jewitt-Harris: @jenniejh (Instagram)

Lynn Hamilton: @writinginbetween (Instagram)

Event details

  • 26 September 2022 - 21 October 2022

    10:00 - 17:00 (GMT)

    UCA Farnham, GU9 7DS

  • 6 October 2022 - 6 October 2022

    18:30 - 19:30 (GMT)

    UCA Farnham, GU9 7DS