Bendigo artist Simon Rigg, who is confined to a wheelchair and paints by holding the brush in his mouth, also has a talent for writing and would be praised for his beautiful cursive ‘hand’ if he hadn’t written it by holding the pen in his mouth.
A letter that Simon has written to supporters is included in the latest worldwide mid-year range, which is being sent to consumers throughout Australia by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.
Simon is a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, which is an international body with 850 members around the world who earn their income through the sale of greeting cards, jigsaws, puzzles and other products although the artists can also undertake their own private commissions or stage exhibitions.
He lives at Shelbourne, which is a quiet rural community about 18 kilometres from Bendigo with his eldest daughter Amy, who is Simon’s carer and runs a refuge for about forty unwanted horses
Simon said that it sometimes took him several days to write the letter, which he sometimes tackles a paragraph at a time and has even had to go back to start again when her has made a spelling mistake.
“I have been told by an expert that my ‘foot’ writing is actually like my original handwriting when they have compared it to my writing before my accident,” Simon said.
Simon has been a quadriplegic since 1982 when he fell ten feet to the ground while he was repairing the roof of the shed at the back of his property. He initially learned to write with a pencil when he was in rehabilitation at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, before he learned to paint with a brush.
The clarity and consistency of Simon’s mouth writing sets a standard that few able-bodied hand writers could emulate.
In describing the mid-year range from the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, he said that it contained some excellent examples of floral cards ‘for all occasions’ including one of ‘Coastal Poppies’ by his good friend, New Zealander Kevin Griffiths.
“There are also a number of other products, such as jigsaws and puzzles, playing cards as well as gift tags and wrapping paper, place mats, which are in high demand, particularly the jigsaws with sales up over 50 per cent. All these are illustrated with art works by the MFPA member artists,” Simon said.
The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists is a self-help organisation and was founded in 1956 by a group of European artists and gives people with disabilities the opportunity to fulfil their creative ambitions while still maintaining financial independence by selectively selling their artworks.
The MFPA was established in Australia in 1971 and currently has five members around the country.
To become a student member an artist must qualify by painting using a brush held in either their mouth or foot, having lost the use of their hands through an illness or accident. Student members receive scholarships for art supplies and tuition. Once an artist becomes a full member or associate they are guaranteed a salary for life, even if they are unable to continue painting.
For further information on the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists contact MFPA on (02) 9698 3933 or visit www.mfpa.com.au.
Released for MFPA by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations