Ex-soldier turns to art in struggle to adapt

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Jay Wheeler founder of Love Artuk © Jay Wheeler

Jay Wheeler founder of Love Artuk © Jay Wheeler

A former soldier has revealed how his new-found interest in art has helped him get his life back on track after suffering from depression.

Jay Wheeler, who founded Love Artuk and Love ArtGlobal, served 15 years in the British Army and he reveals how art aided him in his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder, emotionally unstable personality disorder and depression.

On his last day on patrol in Afghanistan, his friend and comrade, Zac Cusack, was killed in front of him in an enemy attack, at the age of 21.

Jay left the force a week later and it was here he began his battle with mental health.

Liverpool man Jay told JMU Journalism: “Art has uncovered many questions about how I perceive myself and the world around me. Suffering from depression can take away your dignity and confidence – it’s very hard to believe in yourself.

“The brain can be our everything but also be our nightmare. Art allows us to take back some control – it allows us to escape.”

The artist uses the word ‘Love’ to spray his artwork around the city, which he says has a deeper meaning behind it.

During his breakdowns and suicide attempts after leaving the force, he began to think about all the hate that he had previously come across from being a young boy all the way through to his 15-year service in the army.

Mr Wheeler added:”I first discovered art during my second admission to Broadoak Psychiatric Hospital for several suicide attempts. I was introduced to the Occupational Therapy Department, which is separate from the wards themselves.

“It’s a very good place to talk openly with other patients about how we are feeling that day and it takes away your negative thoughts and memories. The budget for OT departments isn’t the best and that’s why I like to raise money for them.”


Jay doesn’t plan to stop his work and fundraising any time soon and he has a number of plans already in place for the future.

He will be taking his artwork up and down the country from March 23rd to April 3rd, beginning in Manchester and finishing in Nottingham. He will also be sharing his story as an interactive project for a second consecutive year as a part of the Liverpool Loves festival, which will be taking place in August.


About Nathan Burgess, JMU Journalism