St. Paul’s, Worthing
Alison Lapper was born in Burton on Trent in1965 with a condition called phocomelia, this resulted in her being born without any arms and shortened legs. Alison spent her childhood and teenage years in specialist institutions. During this time the school experimented with prosthetic limbs to try and ‘normalise’ the children to help them ‘fit in’ with society. After years of operations, falls and struggling, Alison decided to ditch these and be herself.
At 17 Alison spent two years in an assessment centre where she learned to drive and was taught about life, how to cook, shop, take care of herself and how to be independent.
Aged 19 Alison moved to Shepherds Bush London, it was here that she learned to live!! She went shopping, clubbing and even got married – for a short time. It was in London that she began to study art and completed a Pre Foundation and then a Foundation Course.
In 1990 Alison got a placement at University of Brighton to do a degree in Fine Arts so she moved to Sussex. After graduating in 1993 with a first class honours degree in Fine Arts, Alison became a full member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) of which she still is today. In 2014 Alison was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Brighton, she is still regularly involved with them as an alumni.
In the year 2000 Alison gave birth to her son Parys, of whom she calls her greatest achievement. During this time she was approached by sculptor Marc Quinn and his controversial statue ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ was created. It spent 18 months on the fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2005, raising disability awareness and prompting widespread public debate.
In 2003 Alison was awarded an MBE
Alison has featured as a subject in many documentaries throughout her life and is now, amongst other things, pursuing a new career as a television presenter. In 2016 she co-presented No Body’s Perfect a documentary about body image for BBC4 with the photographer Rankin, followed by her own take on William Blake for Sky Arts in 2017.
Alison is a well known public figure, regularly giving talks about her life and experiences. She visits schools and colleges for children of all ages talking about art, diversity, acceptance and body image. Alison is a charismatic after dinner speaker, appearing at many business and charities events.
Credits and Achievements
First class honours degree in Fine Arts -1993
Full Member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) – 1993
MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) – 2003
Gorbachev Women’s World Achievement Award – 2005
Outsiders – Photographic Images Award – 2006
Autobiography My Life in My Hands – 2006
Life Award – Special Award – 2007
Honorary Doctorate from University of Brighton – 2014
Vienna Look Awards – World Artist – 2014
No Body’s Perfect – BBC4 Documentary with photographer Rankin – 2016
William Blake – Sky Arts Documentary 2017
Patron of registered charity Gig-Arts 2018