This man is turning lead into art to raise awareness about PTSD and depression

PROUD: Mr Davis with one of his battlefield poppies, made from a bullet like in his hand. PICTURES: Lachlan Bence
PROUD: Mr Davis with one of his battlefield poppies, made from a bullet like in his hand. PICTURES: Lachlan Bence

TRENTHAM artist Ron Davis thinks lead gets a bit of a bad rep, and he’s brought an art exhibition to Ballarat to change that. And while he’s doing it, he’s raising money and awareness about PTSD and depression.

“Lead gets a lot of bad press,” Mr Davis said. “This exhibition is to showcase the history, and art, of lead.”

From antiques from the Roman empire, to modern day art made from recycled lead, each item demonstrates the versatility of the material and the often-unnoticed ways it is relied on today- like for your car battery.

“Everyone uses a car. That relies on a three kilogram battery to power it. Police cars, mobility scooters, golf buggies.”

He’s fighting the notion that lead is something to be scared of. “Provided you don’t lick it or get shot by a lead bullet,” Mr Davis said, “you’ll be fine.”

The piece Mr Davis is most proud of is his battlefield poppies.

“Over the last two years I’ve been collecting lead 303 bullets from a historic rifle range in Kyneton, that were used by the Australian Light horse, and Volunteer Defence Corps.”

From there, he turns the bullets into lead poppies. 

They were quick to strike a chord with people, particularly those with grandparents who had trained in the region, and people who learn that bullets are still used by those who serve today.

ART FROM BULLETS: Ron Davis turns lead bullets into poppies, individually handcrafted. PICTURE: Lachlan Bence

ART FROM BULLETS: Ron Davis turns lead bullets into poppies, individually handcrafted. PICTURE: Lachlan Bence

Mr Davis saw an opportunity. Auctioning off his poppies and creating smaller, wearable badges, he’s using the profits to help raise money for local organisations and increase awareness around PTSD and depression.

“I actually went through a depression myself… so I have some perception of what sufferers go through,” Mr Davis said. “Knowing these soldiers put themselves on the line for us… It’s tragic that they go off to war, then come back and kill themselves.”

He wants to start conversations and provide awareness, not only for those who’ve served, but for emergency services too. “Anyone can go through that downhill slippery slope.”

It’s a campaign that resonated strongly with 20 year army veteran, Jeffry Lowe. Having experienced depression himself after his wife passed, and through his time volunteering with a local veterans support group, he’s seen the struggle of PTSD and depression firsthand. 

“People can say [PTSD sufferers] are putting it on,” said Mr Lowe. “In the general public, many people don’t have a full concept of how severe it is.”

When he heard of Mr Davis’ exhibition, and efforts in raising money for local RSLs and other small organisations that require extra assistance, he knew he wanted to be involved.

“I found Ron’s concept of what he wanted to do very interesting. I thought, I can still help veterans as well as expanding to local services that see things say in, day out- accidents, deaths on the road,” and more.

“You know, you can say ‘PTSD’ and people go ‘oh, yeah.’ But if you can sit down and tell people [what it actually is], it gives them the idea that there are people able to help them, and help recognise what it is.”

Mr Davis’ exhibition is currently running at Ballarat Library.