The roots of the MFPA go back to 1956, when Erich Stegmann, a polio-stricken mouth painter, gathered a small band of disabled artists from eight European countries. Their ultimate goal was to make their living through their artistic efforts, and to obtain a sense of work security that until then had eluded them.

Coupling his creative abilities with business acumen, Stegmann established the MFPA as a co-operative society that reproduces its artists’ work mainly in the form of greeting cards, calendars and books.

From the small group that he gathered for the inaugural meeting of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, the organisation has now grown to represent nearly 800 members, from 74 countries around the world.

One of the main themes of Stegmann’s credo was that the MFPA must never be regarded as a charity simply because its members are disabled. To Stegmann, the word “charity” was as abhorrent as the word “pity”. And thus, to this day MFPA’s motto worldwide remains as “self-help, not charity”

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