The Arts and Trauma

 “Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” Rainer Maria Rilke

This page is a work in progress!  If you know of anyone whose life has been affected by traumatic injury and is now engaged in the arts, please let us know so we can grow this list.

The arts and entertainment are great healers and can inspire us all.


Born from the unprovoked stabbing of an art student which left him in a wheelchair, Art Against Knives works with at-risk young people living in areas of London affected by knife crime and facilitates creative opportunities to help them secure employment, education or training.

Disability Arts Online is a ‘portal into the world of disability arts and a hub that connects people in a strong and vibrant creative community ‘

The Paraorchestra is ‘the UK's first professional ensemble for disabled musicians’

Ill-abilities – ‘differently abled’ (including amputee) breakdance crew who tour internationally

Drake Music are ‘leaders in music, disability and technology’. Drake use technological innovations to enable people with disabilities to express themselves with music

Attitude is Everything is an organisation that ‘improves deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with artists, audiences and the music industry’

Can Do Musos “support and promote musicians with disabilities from all over the world”

Candoco Dance Company is a contemporary dance company of professional disabled and non-disabled dancers. At the heart of the Company's work are its national and international productions, created by world class choreographers for audiences to enjoy. Alongside these, through Candoco's Learning projects and activities the Company provides access to the highest quality of work for people participating in contemporary dance for pure enjoyment, or as part of a developing career. Celebrating its 25 years in 2016, Candoco Dance Company continues to challenge perceptions of what dance is and who can dance.

Trauma comedy

The Disabled Gangster TBI survivor and stand up comedian

Trauma survivors who blog/write/paint

Daryl Brown ‘sharing first hand life experiences of depression, disability, and LGBT sexuality’

Phil Sheridan ‘poet, facilitator, mentor, film maker’

Sue Vincent is the carer of a trauma survivor, who writes, ‘paints with cameras’ and runs a ‘modern day mystery school’

Sophie Morgan blogs, draws and paints, and has a successful wedding gifts business Lovelines.

Jan Luxton blogs about her experience of recovering from a traumatic brain injury after a car crash.

Famous trauma survivor artists

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) The most famous artist (poet) of the First World War.  In the French trenches, Wilfred was blown into the air by a mortar and, after being rescued, suffered shell shock (PTSD).  He went on to write some of the most moving poetry of the 20th century.

“Do you know what would hold me together on a battlefield? The sense that I was perpetuating the language in which Keats and the rest of them wrote!”

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was one of the most admired and influential painters of the 20th century.  At the age of 18, a bus accident left her with multiple traumatic injuries. The health and emotional after-effects of this experience inspired her astonishing paintings.

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” 

Rick Allen (Def Leppard’s drummer) (1963-)  Rick is the drummer for one of the world’s most famous hard rock groups.  In 1984, he almost died and lost his arm in a car accident, but kept playing and Def Lepard’s popularity grew.

“My desire is to encourage a support system for warriors, de-stigmatize PTSD, share their stories and offer alternative ways to pave the road to resiliency and health.”