Alison Lapper

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Alison Lapper on the Blue Sofa Bertelsmann program, 2005

Alison Lapper MBE (born 7 April 1965 in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire[1]) is an English artist who was born without arms. She is the subject of the sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant, which was on display in Trafalgar Square until late 2007.

Early life[edit]

Alison Lapper was born without arms and with shortened legs, a condition called phocomelia. She was institutionalized in her childhood, and is still distant from her relatives.

When she was fitted with artificial limbs, she experienced them only as an attempt to make her look less disconcerting instead of actually helping her. So she abandoned them and learned to live without external aids.

At the age of 19, Lapper left Chailey Heritage School and moved to London. She acquired a driving licence and a flat. Lapper studied in The Faculty of Arts and Architecture at the University of Brighton and graduated with a first class honours degree in Fine Art in 1994.[1]

Artistic career[edit]

Lapper uses photography, digital imaging and painting to, as she says, question physical normality and beauty, using herself as a subject. She paints with her mouth. One particular influence is the sculpture Venus de Milo, due to the physical similarities between the idealized classical female statue and Lapper's own body. She has taken part in various British exhibitions, including in the Royal Festival Hall. She is a member of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World (AMFPA). In May 2003, Lapper was awarded an MBE for her services for art.

After she had given birth to her son Parys in 2000, she created an installation of photographs of herself with him. Lapper and her son have featured on the ongoing BBC television documentary Child of Our Time.

Marc Quinn sculpture[edit]

A giant replica of the sculpture in the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony.

She posed for Marc Quinn for the sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant. Made of Carrara marble, it shows Lapper nude and pregnant. It occupied the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square between September 2005 and late 2007.[2][3][4][5] and a large replica featured in the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony.


In May 2003, Lapper was awarded MBE [6] for services to art.

In July 2014, Lapper was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Brighton.[7]


  1. ^ a b Lapper, Alison (3 September 2005). "Beauty unseen, unsung". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 February 2012. Extract from autobiography, Lapper (2005). 
  2. ^ "Marc Quinn: Alison Lapper Pregnant". Fourth Plinth. Greater London Authority. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Hart, Christopher (25 September 2005). "Review: My Life in My Hands by Alison Lapper with Guy Feldman". Times Online. London. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  4. ^ Lyall, Sarah (10 October 2005). "In Trafalgar Square, Much Ado About Statuary". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Higgins, Charlotte (16 September 2005). "Sculpture's unveiling is pregnant with meaning". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "BBC Newsnight Review, 15 September 2005". 
  7. ^ Press Association (28 July 2014). "Artist Alison Lapper given honorary doctorate | Art and design". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 


External links[edit]