Saturday, 11 October 2014

Alison Lapper MBE

I shot Alison Lapper at the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London before the sculpture of her 'Alison Lapper (8 months), 2000' by Marc Quinn was installed in 2005. The portrait of her alone was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery for its permanent collection surrounded by flocks of pigeons but I have always loved this image of her with her son, which was never published.

I was listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning and she was speaking inevitably about the experience as a disabled mother and artist.

When commissioned, we are sent to photograph people but very often don't have the details of the life that has brought them to this moment, deemed relevant or important enough to be recorded for posterity. I research my subjects as it does help with a silent empathy as well as an aid to developing visual metaphors in the moment but with Lapper I did not. I didn't know her son Paris would be attending and the commission did not include shots with him; I did this and others just for them (and me). In terms of my own development, this connection and Quinn's sculpture itself helped challenge so many aspects of my stupid prejudice and altered my view of the world.

Alison Lapper with son Paris, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London © Richard Ansett 2005

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