The Association of Mouth and Foot Painters has played host to an Art Exhibition at the Carpe Diem School in George to recuperate lost revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Financially, the organisation supports and promotes 26 artists in South Africa. While these artists can’t create their artwork with their hands because of a disability or disease, they create masterpieces with their mouths or feet.
Most of the artists were paralyzed due to a motor vehicle or other type of accident. But instead of wallowing in despair due to their loss, they learned a skill, that many cannot even accomplish with their hands.
Brenton Swartz from Cape Town suffered a gunshot accident, which paralyzed him from the neck down.
He says due to his disability he wasn’t able to find a job but realised his talent as an artist.
“In 2009 I managed to get a scholarship with the Foot and Mouth Painters Association. They helped me to further my studies in art and I’ve been doing it ever since. I think it’s like anything you get used to doing, especially when you love it. It’s like learning to write, all of us when we started to write we started with circles and triangles, and squares. It’s the same when you paint with your mouth, you get used to it, and you get better the more you do it.”
The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a heavy blow to the Association of Mouth and Foot Painters.
To recuperate, a local artist, Patrick Botto, organised a Gala evening and weekend art exhibition.
“I came up with the idea because we were struggling after this COVID-19 thing, just to get ourselves out in public, let them know we’re still here. We haven’t closed our doors. So, I came up with the idea to ask, if we have 26 artists around the country if all of them can just send two paintings, so we can have a lekker art exhibition. They all contributed very nicely, I’m very thankful for our artists.”
The Association is funded mainly through the support of the public. Director of the Mouth and Foot Painters Publishing House, Yvonne Labuschagne, says with these funds they are able to assist the artists with expenses, which include paying their caregivers and even furthering their education.
“We hosted this art exhibition to make them more aware of how they paint with their mouths, the obstacles they overcome, and how desperately we need the funds to keep going. So they can have a whole full life full of love and laughter. Their helpers, and their careers are the people that keep them going, they can’t just do everything by themselves, they’re totally dependent on their caregivers. As an association, we try to help them to be independent workers, and artists, to further their artistic development, which you can see is very good.”
Those interested in their art products or supporting them in any other way can visit the Association’s website at mouthandfoopaintersrsa.org.