Kyriacos Kyriacou (Kris) was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents. At school, Kris’s passion for sports led to him captaining the cricket and baseball teams, and his prowess in rugby saw him representing London, Middlesex and South East England as a junior player.
However, Kris’s sporting success ended dramatically on the beach at Brighton when he broke his neck in a tragic diving accident. After spending a year at Stoke Mandeville hospital, Kris came home, continuing his education and discovering a talent for art.
Eventually this led to a meeting with the eminent mouth artist Charles Fowler, who encouraged Kris to send examples of his work to the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA). With great dedication Kris worked long hours to hone his technique, his efforts being rewarded in 1982 in promotion to Full Member Artist within the Association.
The MFPA is a self-help partnership of over 800 global artists with disabilities who create stunning artistic designs using just their mouths and feet. These are then made into products and cards sold through the MFPA. One of Kris’s design “Yonder Star” was chosen to be one of this year’s Christmas cards, you can purchase the cards at: www.mfpa.uk/shop/category/christmas-cards
The sales of the MFPA cards and products affords artists financial independence, whilst giving representation. As a business, it empowers the disabled community, which makes them an ideal group to support this Christmas.
As a professional working artist, Kris had the means to take his family back to Cyprus and the warm welcome they received from the extended family and friends led to the decision to relocate to the island in 1990. His fantastic loving family have been an enduring support for Kris since his accident but when he met Blanche, a nurse who had come to work in Cyprus, his life took an unexpected turn. Kris and Blanche married and now live in the home they designed near Kris’s fathers birthplace, the clear Mediterranean light providing a constant inspiration for his painting.
The roots of the MFPA go back to 1957 when the mouth painter Erich Stegmann, who was inflicted with polio from a very young age, brought together a small group of disabled artists from eight European countries to create a self-help association in Britain. It was his belief that if painters with similar impairments formed a co-operative it would be possible for them to live by their artistic efforts and enjoy a sense of work security that until then had eluded them. The result has been a unique worldwide art movement.
Stegmann was adamant that the international Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists must never be regarded as a charity simply because many of its members were wheelchair users or even in hospital beds. To him the key word was “partnership” – this idea lives through the association today.