Artist Alison Lapper speaks about the loss of her son

Artist Alison Lapper said her late son Parys turned to drugs due to mental health problems.

Ms Lapper, who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a congenital disorder, was eight months pregnant with Parys when she posed naked for a sculpture which was displayed on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, the artist said her son, who died recently at the age of 19, was in a “vicious circle”.

Police told Ms Lapper her son might have died from an accidental overdose, according to the newspaper.

Ms Lapper said: “His mental health would get worse so he’d take drugs and the drugs would then make his mental health worse.”

She said her son had struggled with school bullies due to her disability, and when he was 13 he no longer wanted her to come to parents’ evenings.

“I could see how anxious he was,” she said, adding that when she turned up at school they were “the show”.

She said: “The next day Parys would go in and they would rip pieces out of him.”

Alison Lapper
Alison Lapper next to Marc Quinn’s controversial statue (John Stillwell/PA)

Ms Lapper said her son had worries about his body image and became introverted.

She said she “fought tooth and nail”, adding: “You know your own child better than anybody but, of course, people didn’t believe me. It was really hard.”

Ms Lapper, who believed her son had been on the road to recovery, according to the newspaper, said she does not want him to be remembered as a “junkie, as just another drugs death”, adding: “The drugs were a consequence of what he had been through.”

She told The Sunday Times: “Mums like me shouldn’t be burying 19-year-old kids, should we? He’s supposed to be burying me.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted about Ms Lapper’s interview, saying: “Heartbreaking to read of the death of the wonderful Alison Lapper’s son, Parys. Alison is a true icon of inclusivity & inner strength. We as a nation grieve with her.”

Ms Lapper is known around the world for her work, but in 2014 she said Parys is “my greatest piece of art work and creation”.

She uses photography, digital imaging and painting to question physical normality and beauty.

A member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World, she has used her body as subject matter for artworks.

The statue of Ms Lapper, titled Alison Lapper Pregnant, was a 13-tonne, 11ft 6in high white marble sculpture by artist Marc Quinn, and was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2005.

London mayor at the time, Ken Livingstone, hailed Ms Lapper as a “modern heroine”.

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