Suffolk

Missing man's wife Valerie Armstrong 'finds relief in painting'

Valerie Armstrong
Image caption Valerie Armstrong said she felt "very very privileged" to have art as a means of expressing her emotions

An artist whose husband went missing almost three years ago said the "enormous" pain relief of art had helped her through trauma.

David Wood, 61, from Woodbridge in Suffolk, went for a walk from the family's holiday home in the French Alps in 2016 but did not return.

Despite an extensive search, he has never been found.

His wife, Valerie Armstrong, said she was "frozen" artistically but believed she was now her own art therapist.

The couple, who have two sons, had spent the summer of 2016 in Marie in south-east France,

When one of Mr Wood's regular walks took longer than usual on 2 August, Ms Armstrong called him twice and he told her he was tired.

Image copyright Wood family
Image caption David Wood and his family would spend six weeks of the summer at their holiday home in Marie
Image copyright Wood family
Image caption David Wood took up regular walks for exercise after being diagnosed with slightly raised blood pressure

He never came home and did not answer his phone again.

The family feared he had fallen off a mountain path or suffered sunstroke but police, rescue teams and the family's own efforts found no trace of him.

Back home, Ms Armstrong said she struggled to make sense of what had happened and found psychotherapy did not help.

"I just didn't know where to go with my emotions," she said.

"I've always been an artist of one kind or another and I knew I needed to go back into painting rather than the many different things I have done with art in my life.

"I knew I needed to paint expressively and from my heart and from my soul and from myself, and I knew that was a way I could help myself."

Image caption Valerie is exhibiting her work in her home town of Woodbridge

She said an online intensive course designed to help artists improve and to share their work "got me into the place I needed to go".

"It was such a relief," she added.

"I had somewhere to put all this stuff that was going round in my head."

Ms Armstrong, who is exhibiting 22 works at a gallery in Woodbridge, said she felt "very very privileged" to have the "huge tool" of creativity.

"I was an art therapist when I was younger - with going back into my creativity, my own painting, my own outpouring of emotion I am now my own art therapist.

"I'm really aware of the power of creative work when you're going through something traumatic like I am."

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