Last week I was invited to the Bell’s Whisky ‘Message in a Bottle’ contemporary art exhibition, at Display Gallery, Holborn. This exhibition was launched to mark Armed Forces Day and celebrate Bell’s partnership with Forces’ charity, Help for Heroes, in which Bells has raise £1m for the charity. Using an array of sensory cues, the exhibition uniquely recounts the inspirational tales and humbling experiences of Armed Forces’ veterans and people pivotal to their recovery.
The instillation was created by artist Sebastian Kite, in partnership with creative studio Jotta, and brings to life the stories of over 45 former servicemen and women, their families and supporters. It is an incredible exhibition, bathed in reflective light from 600 glass surfaces, a central beacon of light is suspended from the steel structure above a pool of whisky, which is heated to gently fill the room with gentle malted barley aromas – yummy! I love the fact that my nose and taste buds are enjoying an exhibition as much as my eyes!
Kite commented on the exhibition: “Message In A Bottle has been an inspiring project to work on. After immersing ourselves in the veterans’ experiences, we wanted to honour the individuals through the materials and mediums used in the artwork to communicate the journey of recovery. The reflective and restorative properties of light incorporated into cyclical structures represent the regenerative and positive outlook expressed through each tale.”
It was great to meet some of the servicemen and women too. I myself have worked with a Forces’ charity before (BLESMA) and have to say, the courage and strength these men and women have is truly incredible. Among the former servicemen and women that attended was Simon Brown, a former British Army Soldier. He was injured during his second tour of Iraq, when he was hit by sniper fire while recovering six colleagues whose vehicle had broken down. The bullet destroyed his left eye, permanently damaged his right – leaving him with only 19% vision – and shattered both cheekbones. Help for Heroes gave Simon vital support whilst he rebuilt his life, offering him the opportunity to take part in challenges so he could prove to himself what he could achieve.