Still Life: Portrait of a Fighter - Derek's Story

Posted: 19/01/2016 | Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded member Derek O’Rourke has worked with Scottish film company Bass Rock Films to produce a highly emotive short documentary about his life through painting titled, ‘Still Life: Portrait of a Fighter’.

The documentary was filmed at Scottish War Blinded's Linburn Centre in the Autumn of last year and premiered at the Edinburgh Filmhouse in November 2015. discovered a talent for art after losing his sight in subsequent later life after serving in the Royal Navy. In the documentary, Derek describes how art and creativity has helped him overcome living with with a visual impairment, Post-Traumatic Shock Disorder (PTSD) and cancer.

Derek said:

“I would say it is like painting through a keyhole. I can only see my paintings from a few inches away through a magnifying glass and as it gets farther from my eyes the canvas becomes blurred and distorted. Therefore, I can’t see my finished paintings instead asking others for their impressions. Painting has played a huge role in overcoming may things I have experienced in my life and I was delighted to have the opportunity to work with Kieran."

Kieran Hennigan, Director of Bass Rock Films, said:

“'Still Life: Portrait of a Fighter' is a short documentary about Derek O'Rourke - a remarkable Scottish painter. Derek has a visual impairment, suffers from PTSD, and is battling cancer - but still produces incredible works of art. I'm indebted to him for letting me tell his story - and my thanks also go the Scottish War Blinded for facilitating the production. 

“The film was recently premiered at the Edinburgh Filmhouse - and we'll be entering the production into UK film festivals throughout 2016.

“On a personal level, I've found Derek to be an inspiring character. He's also been incredibly supportive of me as I try to further my career in documentary film.”

Further examples of Kieran’s work can be viewed from his vimeo page.

Scottish War Blinded provides free support to veterans of the armed forces who have a visual impairment sustained either in conflict or subsequently to their service. We support ex-service men and women who have served in the Armed Forces, including Reserves, Queen Alexandra Nursing Corps and National Service.

If you or someone you know could benefit from Scottish War Blinded’s activities, call us free today on 0800 035 6409 or visit