“I HAVE painted since I can remember. I was definitely an artist before I was a soldier.”

As a member of the Royal Engineers 101 Explosive Ordinance Disposal Regiment Sam Mortimer is used to spending time diffusing potentially life threatening situations.

The nature of his role as High Threat Search Adviser with the Bomb Disposal team takes him into countries of conflict.

Sam explains the team comprises High Threat Search which involves teams going out to try and locate devices in the ground and dealing with the device once it has been found.

“There is an inherent danger, especially in the bomb disposal community. You always know you are going towards a potential target,” explains Sam.

He was 19 when he joined the army. His first six years were spent as a combat engineer with the Royal Engineers working on operations such as mine warfare, clearing out mine fields and bridge demolition.

“It’s all very hands-on and practical stuff that they teach you and they are also teaching you a trade and give you qualifications you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to get.”

Before joining the army Sam, who grew up predominantly in York, was considering a creative career. He went to Leeds College of Art and Design after leaving school.

“Directly after that my main goal was to continue my art education at university but at that time, 2003, Iraq was just about to start and Afghanistan had been going on for a year and a half and I felt the pull to do something.”

Sam’s initial plan was to do four years service and then return to his studies. “But something about it, especially this job, I made some really good friends and all the time you feel you are positively making a difference, actively helping people and helping the situation rather than going somewhere and detracting from the situation.”

Sam found he was able to combine his career with his pastime. “It started to really inform the type of art I was making. It was becoming more expressive,” he says.

Painting landscapes in places he has served such as Kurdistan where he spent six months as part of a team delivering high level training with the Peshmerga, the military forces of the federal region of Iraqi Kurdistan, to neutralise devices, puts a different perspective on the places many associate with conflict.

Sam explains how painting the landscapes enables him to explore the ‘juxtoposition’ - the beauty within what many believe to be a harsh and brutal environment.

Painting is often perceived to be a therapeutic pastime and Sam certainly can relate to that. His sketchbook is one of the tools of his trade he takes on operations.

“I carry around a sketchbook and paint watercolour mostly. If I have the time, and the environment is permissive enough I can do some sketching and painting there,” says Sam.

While Sam paints mainly landscapes, he also finds the people he meets ‘inspirational.’ “Everyone I have met in this environment are so lovely and charitable and kind.”

He began exhibiting his work over four years ago. Before that his work was mostly commissions. Sam’s most recent exhibition is at the Harrison Lord Gallery in Brighouse.

It is the third time he has showcased his work with the gallery after becoming involved with them through a previous exhibition in Holmfirth.

“I do love the North, I am a Northerner,” says Sam proudly.

“I have family all over Yorkshire but I have always really liked the area and Bradford, especially the small villages and pockets around there, Brighouse, Holmfirth, they are lovely places to go.”

Places he loves to re-create include the Lake District, the North Yorkshire Moors and around his home county of Yorkshire.

Sam says he enjoys having some ‘alone time’ to focus on his art. He explains how producing his artwork, which he also profiles on social media, takes him away from his work and gives him time to concentrate on his creativity.

Having that time also gives Sam an appreciation of seeing the places he has worked in a totally different light.

“It re-aligns your perception of that place. Over six months of being somewhere you will have good and bad times,” says Sam.

Sam says he also finds painting ‘therapeutic.’ At home in York he has a studio where he spends his time when he’s not helping to save lives.

“The amount of time I look at my watch thinking I’ve been in the studio for an hour or so and seven hours has passed without having anything to eat or drink but it’s nice as well and spending that time in a world you are bringing to life.”

The 33-year-old has spent 15 years with the Royal Engineers and isn’t expected to retire until he has completed 24 years, but it is evident from our conversation that Sam loves his job and combining his career with his passion for painting is enabling him to fulfill his ambition.

For many serving in the forces it isn’t just a workplace, it becomes a family.

“I love everything about it,” says Sam, who is currently based with his regiment in Cambridge on a training cycle.

What is particularly satisfying is the fact Sam and his team are potentially saving lives through the work they do.

“The saving of lives is definitely a huge part of why I love it but the reason I love it most of all is the people, the EOD (Explosives Ordinance Disposal) community. Everyone has got each others’ backs and there is a massive camaraderie. It is just a big family,” says Sam.

Sam’s work forms part of the “Symphony of Landscapes” exhibition at The Harrison Lord Gallery in Brighouse.

Featuring work by some of the UK’s top landscape artists, “Symphony of Landscapes” also showcases the work of landscape painter and writer, Paul Talbot-Greaves, John Sibson, Francesca Roberts and Sheryl Roberts

Sam is an expressionist landscape painter, infusing his subject with vivid colour and expressive brush strokes to create paintings of beauty and emotion.

The exhibition opened on April 21 and runs for six weeks. For more information visit harrisonlord.co.uk or call 01484 722462.

To find out more about Sam’s work visit sam-mortimer-art-Studios.com; Insta/Facebook - sam mortimer art.