MEDICINE HAT, AB – One locally based soldier is using his love of sketching, painting, and drawing to help raise money for charities that support Canada’s military.
Over the last seven months, Cpl. Karl Holmstrom has been creating over 100 portraits and art pieces that are on display at the ‘Gallery of Remembrance’ at the King Edward Billiard Hall.
Serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan as part of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry 1st Battalion, Holmstrom said art always
“In Afghanistan after a patrol, I’d take out my sketchbook, just sketch and just relax,” said Holmstrom. “It’s always been something to unwind for me and it’s always been a part of my life. My grandpa is an artist, my mom and dad are both artists, so it’s something within our family and it’s something I grew up with.”
Now stationed at CFB Suffield, he was given the green light to launch the gallery which has been his largest artistic undertaking.
Holmstrom said he wanted to document the history of Canadian troops not just from the First and Second World Wars, but from lesser acknowledged conflicts such as the Korean War.
“There’s so many things in our Canadian military history that we’ve lost,” he said. “There’s little stories that go untold and it’s good to have those stories told, and to really just increase knowledge and have that interest from the public.”
Along with numerous Canadian pieces dotting the gallery, Holmstrom also created paintings recognizing the British, Australian, Indian, and New Zealand forces.
All of the items will be bid on over the next few weeks during a silent auction, with money raised being split between the Wounded Warriors and Soldier On Canada organizations.
Holmstrom said mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder have had a major impact on his time in the military and hopes this type of initiative will draw focus towards it.
“I’ve had four friends that committed suicide, two of them directly related to PTSD,” he said. “Maybe if they got the help or if they had a good conversation or something, it wouldn’t have happened. So, my personal goal is just to let people know that if you have PTSD, if you are suffering, if you’re going through something, reach out.”
The gallery will be open at its 2nd Street Southeast location until November 18, with school groups expected to participate in tours over the next week.
On Friday night, Holmstrom will be holding a ‘Meet a Veteran’ evening from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, where locals can meet and talk to those who have served the country.
Something that he said should be done throughout the year, not just on Remembrance Day.
“Talk to a veteran, get to know one,” he said. “Take them out for coffee if need be and just really encourage them.”
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