Go to contents

A Visit to Inspire Korea’s Disabled

Posted April. 24, 2006 03:22,   


Alison Lapper (41), British female artist, arrived in Korea through the Incheon International Airport at about ten past four o’clock on the 23rd of April. She overcame the physical deformity of short limbs and is actively working as world-renowned painter and photographer.

Lapper, who is well-known as mouth and foot painting artist, visited at the invitation of the Asia Leaders Forum for Science affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Technology.

She looked a little bit tired, but when asked how she feels about visiting Korea, she answered smiling, “I wish to give dreams and hopes to the disabled through this visit.”

Lapper visited Korea with her son, Parys, and will give a lecture at the “Young Challenger Forum” which will be held from April 28 through April 30 at Gyeonggi English Village Paju Camp.

She said, “I will deliver stories of my childhood, and messages of dreams and hopes to Asian students.”

Officials of the Asia Leaders Forum for Science and about 30 Korean mouth and foot painting artists welcomed Lapper at the Incheon International Airport and handed her a wreath.

Alison Lapper was born in 1965 without arms and with shortened legs, the result of a medical condition called phocomelia. She spent an unhappy childhood. She was abandoned by her parents six weeks after she was born and grew up in a residential institution for people with impairments.

Lapper started to study art at Barnstead College in the Great Britain when she was 17 years old. She married when she was 22, but suffered violence at the hands of her husband. Her marriage came to an end in two years.

She got pregnant in 1999. Those around her tried to talk her out of giving birth, saying, “The baby is likely to be born with same disability as you, and even if the baby is born, how are you going to raise the baby?” However, she decided to give birth and had a healthy baby boy.

Lapper started to study arts again late in her life in order to realize her dream. After graduating from the Heatherley School of Fine Art and the University of Brighton, she embarked on her career as a mouth painting artist and photographer.

In her photographic work, which has been highly acclaimed, she uses her naked body as a model and uses light and shadow to create images with a sculptural quality reminiscent of classical statues.

Lapper was strongly inspired by the Venus de Milo and calls herself “the Modern-Day Venus.” Her overcoming physical deformity and seeking positive self-development earned her admiration from people around the world.

She gained fame as a model after British sculptor Marc Quinn’s five-meter-high sculpture which depicts Lapper eight and a half months pregnant went on display in Trafalgar Square last year.

Last November, Lapper received the second Women’s World Awards awarded by the World Achievement Award Fund located in Germany. Her autobiography, “My Life in My Hands,” has recently been translated into Korean.

Jun-Ho Cha run-juno@donga.com