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Artist who paints with his mouth celebrates first show


AN ARTIST who lost an arm and the use of his other in a motorcycle accident has said the first public exhibition of his work proves "anything is possible".

Andy Baker, 50, was recovering in hospital when he decided to take up painting, despite losing an arm and paralysing the other after falling asleep on his motorbike while riding through Switzerland.

It took him nearly 15 years of writing with his mouth to build up the skill – and the confidence – to put paint to canvas.

On Tuesday, he spoke with pride at seeing his work on public display for the first time at an exhibition organised by curator John Reeve in the Clocktower Café.

"People have been suggesting I start painting for years but I didn't do anything about it because of a lack of confidence," he said.

"Then a friend mentioned John. We spoke and he really liked my work. After that I felt there was nothing to lose.

"I realised I needed to be more proactive and to put myself out there – to do things, rather than not."

Andy, of Violet Lane, Waddon, was 20 when he suffered horrific injuries while on a motorcycle tour of Europe in 1983.

He woke up four days later to discover that doctors had amputated his left arm above the elbow and his right arm was paralysed.

It was while in hospital that he resolved to finally act on the artistic talent he always felt he had.

"I believed I had it in me, but I never had the confidence to try," said Andy.

"My brother and sister are both very successful professional artists and I guess I thought I couldn't be as good as them.

"When I gave it a go I realised I had the ability to make something look real, but obviously not how you see in reality.

"For me the biggest barriers are more emotional than physical, as mad as that sounds. When I eventually started to paint I already had 15 years' experience of writing with my mouth.

"It was more about having the courage to put down on canvas what is true to me."

In 1998 Andy, who cites surrealist Salvador Dali as his principle influence, was accepted as a student with the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists Association. He admits to being overwhelmed at seeing his work on display.

"I never thought this would happen," he said. "Sometimes I feel I'm not any good and I look at my work and think it's ridiculous.

"But I've had a lot of positive comments and my confidence has grown.

"What I've learnt is if it's a flop, it's a flop. Unless you actually try, you're never going to get anywhere.

"Now I want to use my talent and have people appreciate and benefit from it. That's the point – to inspire other people."

Mr Reeve, who runs the Click Clock Gallery, said: "Andy's art is outstanding and we are delighted and honoured to be hosting his first ever exhibition."

The exhibition will be opened by artist Tom Yendell on Saturday and runs until November 2.

Artist who paints with his mouth celebrates first show

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