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Mr Phillip Nelson
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Army August 1, 2013
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Capt Lacey Western
THE war in Afghanistan has not
only produced a new generation of
veterans, but a new wave of cul-
tural references and a new canvas
for artistic expression.
Conflicts have provided such can-
vases throughout history, but they
have not always included the oppor-
tunity for the public to see a special
forces soldier’s unique and personal
interpretation of his experiences.
Cpl S, a serving member of the
SASR, began painting 12 months
ago and in that time has produced
several artworks inspired by his
mates and experiences on operations.
As a patrol 2IC deployed with
the SOTG, Cpl S has continued
to paint in his down time while in
His major artwork for the deploy-
ment is a 1m by 1.2m canvas paint-
ing titled Five Eyes, which depicts
Australian, US, Canadian, UK and
New Zealand soldiers poring over a
map by light of a headlamp.
“I’ve had the idea for this paint-
ing for some time. I wanted to create
something that reflected the positive
aspects of this operation,” Cpl S said.
“For me, a positive I will take
away from here is the friendships I
have made with the special forces
blokes from all the other nations.
This painting is to remind the lads
that we are in it together.”
Cpl S had always shown an apti-
tude for art but until recently had
never received any formal training.
“I was always drawing in a note-
book, mostly cartoons though. If
one of the boys would do something
funny during a job, I would draw
it on the whiteboard, kind of like a
A chance meeting with renowned
military artist Ian Coate provided the
opportunity to develop his skills and
“Ian was showing some of his
artwork at Campbell Barracks. It was
then that I actually thought seriously
about painting,” Cpl S said.
“I showed him some of my
sketches and he offered some lessons
to get me started.”
The budding artist has a number
of his original works of art displayed
A passion for
the art of war
Special forces soldier captures modern ops on canvas
on his website, www.353art.com,
with each piece accompanied by a
description of the event or inspira-
tion for the painting.
“When I was developing the
website, I thought about what I
wanted to create and what I wanted
my art to mean,” Cpl S said.
“It was important to me that it
was accessible to current and former
soldiers, their families and friends.
“I wanted people to look at my
paintings and get a glimpse through
the eyes of a soldier, and see some-
thing that couldn’t be captured with
a camera. I also hoped that my art
would encourage other serving mem-
bers’ creativity and provide an outlet
The wartime art has generated
interest in Western Australia, with a
local businessman buying an original
canvas at a fundraising auction.
The money raised was donated to
the SAS Regimental Trust, which is
a perpetual trust that provides relief
to the families of current and for-
mer serving members of the SASR
who have been killed or disabled as a
result of operational service or train-
Cpl S also plans to donate three
other canvases to auction, with
all proceeds going to Wandering
Warriors, an organisation that rais-
es funds for injured and wounded
SASR veterans and their families.
Cpl S plans to continue painting
when he returns home from his latest
deployment. The Five Eyes canvas
will be held by the SAS Historical
Collection to be put on display.
For the SASR’s 50th birthday
in September next year, Cpl S will
loan his artwork to the WA Museum,
which will host a gallery to display
SAS artwork generated over the past
Brush up: Cpl S, of SASR, works on his latest artwork, Five Eyes, during down
time at Camp Russell in Afghanistan.
Photos by Cpl Mark Doran
Collection: A year since he decided to take up painting, Cpl S has
produced several artworks depicting special forces operations.
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