Guitars are made to be played, but in the hands of the Art and Soul group they are for painting on.
Both art and music are known to be therapeutic for veterans and emergency services personnel who suffer from PTSD. It is not only a creative outlet, but provides a way to express their trauma, relieve stress, and give the mind some space and relief from "stinking thinking", all of which helps to relieve symptoms .
Now, art and music have combined, with the art group members painting guitars to donate to Guitars for Vets, a not-for-profit organisation that provides guitars and free music lessons to veterans suffering from PTSD.
Through Art and Soul co-founder Jillian Oliver's relationship with ANVAM (Australian National Veterans Art Museum), Dave Cox from Guitars for Vets heard about Art and Soul and reached out hoping the group could contribute to the cause.
He sent four guitars with the request they be painted with the theme of poppies. They were returned to him earlier this year along with a fifth guitar which member Jillian Oliver "somehow obtained".
"Our guys were pretty excited painting them because it's something different," Jillian said.
It's an arrangement both parties are keen to keep going. More guitars have been sent up from Guitars for Vets, and Bass n Blues Megastore in Taree have so far donated six guitars they couldn't fix to be painted.
"They've been fantastic and really good with us, with the music group as well. They look after us," Jillian said.
One of those guitars they donated to Wingham High School as a thank you for the year 12 class raising money for Art and Soul previously.
The current crop of guitars are being painted with the them of peace, and will be returned to Guitars for Vets.
Not to be played
The painted guitars are not given out to veterans to be played as musical instruments - most of them were already not playable. Instead, Guitars for Vets uses them to raise funds by selling or auctioning them off, to be able to source more guitars and to provide more music lessons to more vets.
Dave Cox, founder of Guitars for Vets and a veteran of the armed forces himself, says his organisation has been able to help up to 450 veterans so far around Australia.
"We get a lot of donated guitars, and some of them are great, which are usable, but some of them are not, they're really not playable," Dave explained.
"So we come up with a program we call Rhythm Art, where we get the guitars painted by volunteers, anybody who wants to help out, and Jillian's team stepped up and said 'we'd love to do it'.
"For me, it's wonderful to see these old guitars repurposed and reused again, rather than junked."