Australian Army veteran Brendan O’Donohue has rediscovered his passion for art after attending veteran-focussed workshops at the Jamie Larcombe Centre and Unley RSL provided by Centre for Creative Health (CCH).
A self-confessed ‘drawing nut’, Brendan remembers hours spent drawing on Saturday afternoons from childhood well into his teens. After graduating, he spent a year at Stanley St School of Fine Arts before enlisting in the Army at 21 years old.
“I spent 21 years in the Army and once I joined, I stopped drawing. I did a very short stint in Infantry and then transferred to the Australian Army Catering Corps. A champion bunch of soldiers,” Brendan said.
It wasn’t until around 40 years later that Brendan found art again while an inpatient at the Jamie Larcombe Centre (JLC).
“I joined a weekly art group facilitated by Art Tutor Kaz Pederson – it was like I had found my long-lost friend,” Brendan said.
Kaz conducts one-on-one art sessions with inpatients at JLC and has been doing so since the program was at the Repat Hospital. She’s seen incredible transformations in veterans, some who’ve never even picked up a paintbrush or explored art.
Today, Brendan attends Veterans Art Group at Unley RSL, facilitated through Kaz to keep veterans engaged in art practice after they leave JLC.
“I’ve been attending these workshops from the get-go. I find the activity instrumental to my wellbeing, the social interactions with other-like minded veterans is very positive,” Brendan said.
“The activities presented each week by the magnificent and irreplaceable Kaz keep me interested, and there’s a pleasant calm, good karma permeating from the place.
“I am very much a loner, but this group has brought me out of my shell.”
Brendan has also been the recipient of a scholarship to the Adelaide Central School of Art, made possible thanks to the generosity of CCH supporters. CCH offers two scholarships per semester to veterans, giving them the opportunity to expand their creativity and knowledge. Emma Kearton is the other Term 2 scholarship recipient.
Brendan and Emma join a growing list of alumni, with eight other veterans previously receiving scholarships, including Ray Hennessy, Annette Lambert, Maxine Schofield, Brett Sheldon, Alfred (Bob) Harrison, Peter Hancock and David Gillard.
For more information on the scholarship program, email [email protected]