BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 14 May, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Lapper opens London show
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News Online disability affairs reporter

Disabled artist, Alison Lapper - whose naked, pregnant form will occupy the vacant plinth in London's Trafalgar Square - has just opened an exhibition of her own work in the capital.
Photo of Alison Lapper next to her self-portrait
Lapper is inspired by classical works like the Venus de Milo

She is showing a series of self-portrait photographs in which she explores questions of normality and beauty in a society which, she says, considers her deformed.

Lapper was born almost without arms and very short legs - disabilities similar to those caused by Thalidomide.

"These photographs represent a journey I started when I was at art college," she told BBC News Online.

"I was told I used to paint beautiful bodies because I felt bad about my own - I was outraged by this and needed to examine it in more detail."

The photographs - on display at the Eyestorm Gallery in Mayfair, central London until 12 June - are mostly in black and white and are carefully lit to reproduce a classical, marble look.

Lapper is particularly influenced by the Venus de Milo, which is widely regarded as a classical depiction of female beauty despite having no arms.

She says she chose photography because the temptation with paint is to make things look better than they are.

"Photography is very powerful, very instant, and I was in front of as well as behind the camera so I was very much in control."

She says her photographs will hopefully challenge people's prejudice about disability and will encourage them to think beyond stereotypical notions of beauty.

One of Alison Lapper's self-portraits
Lapper used studio lighting to acheive a marble effect
"We have this bizarre body image of perfection which is six foot, stick insect and anorexic. Who can aspire to that?"

How had she managed the practicalities of self-portrait photography?

"I had mirrors in front of me and, as a artist, I already had a vision of what I wanted. Digital photography makes things a lot easier as well - and if you get one or two good shots out of 100 that's great."

She denies being hurt by some of the negative comments made about Marc Quinn's sculpture of her, which will go on display sometime next year.

"All they're doing is showing how ignorant and ridiculous they are," she said.

"As soon as someone says 'it's appalling, it's disgusting', it's actually coming from their perception of disability.

"What I'm doing touches every button - I'm naked, disabled and pregnant. Those three issues touch an awful lot of sensitive areas - sexuality, normality, you name it. It's all there."

She added: "It's fantastic because it's really put disability on the map - and it's about time."

The modern-day Venus de Milo
17 Mar 04  |  Magazine


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific