A TALENTED mouth artist celebrated his first public exhibition in Christchurch after an accident many years ago left him paralysed from the neck down.

After the incident in 1992 left him unable to use his arms or legs, former Royal Engineers soldier Anson Harvey began to draw to relieve his boredom.

A resident at Shelley Park Neuro Care Centre in Boscombe, Anson began drawing with his mouth, although art was something he had never been very good at before his accident.

He said: “I had no formal art training and the skills I developed were self taught. But over the years my artwork has gradually improved “It has been a very slow and sometimes frustrating process and although I still feel that there is room for improvement, my confidence has grown enough for me to share my work with the public.”

His first public showing of his eye-catching portraits took place on Saturday at the Hatch Gallery in Church Street, Christchurch. It is the first time Anson has shown his work.

He likes to draw and paint female portraits and figures in acrylics, as watercolours were difficult to build up and dried quickly, and has created his own system to apply and mix colours with a special carousel.

Boosted in confidence by his art teacher, Anson said he felt a little “overwhelmed” at the reaction from people, with visitors including his carers and Royal British Legion welfare officer Keith Sked.

Sharon White, Anson’s art teacher said: “Anson gets his inspiration for his fantasy art from magazines and uses them as a basis for his portraits.

“He has such a talent. I’m so proud of him for what he has done today; it will really give him a confidence boost.”

Dr Kate Jupp, rehabilitation lead at Shelley Park said: “It’s brilliant to see him exhibiting his work as it really illustrates how far he has come, not only with his work but in his personal journey.”

Anson is hoping to become a member of the Mouth and Foot Painting Artist Association this year.