Artist with multiple sclerosis to hold mouth painting event in East Grinstead

Jacky Archer paints with her mouth, and enjoys painting animals and landscapes
Jacky Archer paints with her mouth, and enjoys painting animals and landscapes

To mark International Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) Day and to raise awareness of the art style, an event is being held at The Book Shop, 22 High Street, East Grinstead.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet mouth painter Jacky Archer, to learn her working process and to see the skills needed to mouth paint, up close.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985, aged 31, and continued to work until she lost the use of all four limbs in 2002.

Mrs Archer was then encouraged to attend a day centre by her occupational therapist and, encouraged by staff and her husband Les, tried mouth painting.

Despite believing that she had no creative talent as a child, Mrs Archer now specialises in scenic landscapes, and has grown in confidence, holding her first solo painting exhibition at the Barbican, London in April 2010.

Mrs Archer said: “I was given a book about the MFPA artists that really spurred me on to continue painting.

“I was really inspired.”

Mrs Archer is one of only 33 recognised mouth and foot painting artists in the UK, and one of 800 worldwide.

She had no interest in art at school, and gave up art as a subject at the age of 13.

She said: “I have become a bit of an exhibitionist! At first I was very self-conscious when people first started to watch me painting, but not now.

“While I am not a quick artist, I love to show the results of my work.”

Mrs Archer's first painting was of one of her cats, and since being accepted as a student artist with the MFPA still uses her cats as models to this day, as well as painting landscapes.

She said: "After my initial efforts, my painting has gone from strength to strength, and I can now continue painting for up to four hours before getting too tired.

"When I first started I got tired very quickly, and my jaw ached.

"My first painting was supposed to look like a cat, but didn’t look anything like one.

"But the day centre was incredibly supportive, and I kept trying and trying with mouth painting.

"It took about six months before my paintings started to look anything like what they were supposed to be."

Mrs Archer has a specially created table and easel to work from, but says it takes time to find your own technique.

Her brush holders, brush stand and table were all custom made for her by volunteers at the day centre, and she said that 'their contribution to [her] success should not be underestimated'.

Mrs Archer said: "I never wanted to paint and had no interest when I was younger.

"But now, years later, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing!

"When I’m painting, I lose myself into the work and my disability doesn’t really come into it.

Persist and keep on painting, you will be amazed at what you can do."

The event takes place on September 4 at 7pm, and will last for approximately one hour.

To get a ticket, please click here.