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Artist draws on past experience

PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:57 05 July 2010

Doug Farthing in his studio. Picture: ANDY DARNELL

Doug Farthing in his studio. Picture: ANDY DARNELL

A LOWESTOFT soldier is turning his back on retirement by returning to the front line - but this time he's painting it.

Doug Farthing makes his career from creating military art, based on translating his mental images to canvas from years dedicated to the Army.

A LOWESTOFT soldier is turning his back on retirement by returning to the front line - but this time he's painting it.

Doug Farthing makes his career from creating military art, based on translating his mental images to canvas from years dedicated to the Army.

But now he is hoping to produce his most realistic images yet, by taking his place as a sergeant major reserve accompanying his comrades on missions to both Iraq and Afghanistan painting commissions while he is there.

The 41-year-old, who works from his studio at home, is being immobilised in the 3rd battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment next month and will start his training in January.

He will remain in Iraq until July next year and will leave for Afghanistan in September.

He said: “I had a phone call from some of my colleagues in the Army and they told me I should go in as a reserve, I wasn't sure what to expect but it's working out really well. My job's based in Bury at the moment and I only work two weekends a month and every Wednesday night, I've been involved in lots of things.”

When Doug sets off for Iraq he will be amongst the Iraq Army and in Afghanistan he will join the 11th Light Brigade as a reserve and artist after gaining special permission from the Artists Society.

“In Iraq, I'm exactly where I wanted to be, it's changed though, we've seen the worst of it and now it's becoming a normal country.

“It's an unusual situation and it allows me to paint so much. I'll also be doing paintings for different units.”

Doug spent more than 20 years with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment before retiring last year, serving in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

And despite art and the Army not necessary going hand in hand, Doug said they fit very nicely together in his life.

“I like painting other things, but the military is important to me and recording other people's experiences.

“If you suddenly stop doing what you are used to its very difficult to adjust and do something else, soldiers feel they are making a difference … it's good to be thrust into different situations.”

He is currently preparing for a new exhibition Diary of a Soldier, which focuses on work from his military past.

It takes place at the Assembly House, in Theatre Street, Norwich, from December 15 to 30. The preview is on December 15.

The National Army Museum has been collecting his work for the past five years and now has four of his paintings depicting our soldiers on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Dean of Norwich Cathedral has also asked him to exhibit his works there for Remembrance Day in 2009.

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