While on holiday with friends, to celebrate the end of their AS exams a young man walked into the sea, dived forward and his life changed forever.
Henry Fraser hit his head on the undulating sea bed and dislocated the fourth vertebrae in his neck, leaving him unable to move anything from the neck down.
Henry, who lives in Chipperfield near Bovingdon, said: “After three weeks in hospital in Portugal I then spent a further six months in hospital in England, fighting everything that was thrown at me from learning how to breathe again to getting as strong and as healthy as possible. During this time I gave up a lot of things, including my love of art. My life was turned upside down but at some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening.”
Now, Henry, 25, is planning an exhibition, Hand To Mouth, in The Cedar Suite of The Grove near Watford from 10am - 6pm on Saturday July 9, which is free to attend.
He rediscovered his love of art last year when an illness meant he was bed bound for several weeks. Feeling bored he found an app on his iPad that enabled him to use a stylus in his mouth. When his health improved he taught himself how to draw and paint with pencils and paint by attaching the utensils to a mouth stick.
He said: “I’ve opened up a thoroughly enjoyable new chapter in my life. It’s funny but without that illness I would never have rediscovered my love for drawing, painting and creating, Adversity has given me a gift. I may not be able to use my hands to do any of the work but sometimes you just have to adapt to life’s challenges.”
Henry’s work includes people who have inspired him. He was recently commissioned by The Times to produce a piece for the front cover of their first rugby World Cup supplement.
Hand To Mouth will include his images of Marilyn Monroe, David Beckham and Harry Potter. Limited edition prints of the artwork will be for sale, and individual commissions can be discussed.
Henry said: “After my accident I thought so many doors had been shut. In fact it’s opened so many more. If it wasn’t for the accident then I’d probably be leading a very boring life at the moment, Adversity has given me a gift. I once read. ‘What the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.’”