A sculpture of her at seven months pregnant became one of the country’s most famous art works when it appeared on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
But just over a decade on, disabled artist Alison Lapper has been left devastated after her teenage son Parys was found dead.
The news was confirmed by Miss Lapper’s fiance Si Clift, who said: ‘Tragically, Parys Lapper, who was only 19 years old, died suddenly a week ago.’ He did not give any further details of the death.
Miss Lapper, who was born without arms and with shortened legs, posed for Marc Quinn in 2000, and his marble sculpture was on display in Trafalgar Square from 2005 to late 2007.
Alison Lapper’s fiance Si Clift has confirmed that Alison’s son Parys (pictured) who was only 19 years old, died suddenly a week ago. He did not provide anymore details
‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ was hailed at the most powerful work by a British artist in decades, and a large replica featured in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympics.
Miss Lapper, 54, from Brighton, has never named Parys’s father, who left her before he was born.
In the face of great opposition she fought to bring him up on her own, as she had been abandoned as an infant by her parents and grew up in institutions.
‘When I saw him, I just cried and cried,’ Alison said movingly after Parys’ birth at 35 weeks in 2000
‘When I saw him, I just cried and cried,’ she said movingly after his birth at 35 weeks in 2000.
‘The emotions I felt were indescribable. I had never imagined I was going to be a mother, never thought it could be possible. But when they placed him on my shoulder and I gave him a little kiss on his head and said “hello”, I was overwhelmed.’
Parys’s life was watched by millions of BBC viewers in the acclaimed documentary series Child of Our Time, presented by Professor Robert Winston.
The idea was to chart the lives of 25 youngsters until they reached their 20th birthdays. Parys is the only one of the 25 to have died before reaching that milestone.
Miss Lapper, who overcame her disabilities to achieve a first-class honours degree in fine art at Brighton University and forge a career as an artist herself, was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2003. In an emotional speech in 2014, when she was awarded an honorary doctorate at Brighton, she described Parys as ‘my greatest piece of artwork and creation’.
Mr Clift described Parys as ‘a mischievous, generous, kind, loving, frustrating, cheeky, forgiving, beautiful boy’. He added: ‘He was his own man. He was a good son.’
Miss Lapper had initially refused to pose for Quinn, worried how he would depict disability, but agreed after he argued many of the greatest sculptures are missing limbs.
Miss Lapper, who was born without arms and with shortened legs, posed for Marc Quinn in 2000, and his marble sculpture was on display in Trafalgar Square from 2005 to late 2007
The fourth plinth, intended to hold a statue of King William IV, was empty for 150 years before becoming a showcase for a rolling series of art works from 1999.
The funeral for Parys will be held on Thursday at Worthing Crematorium. Mr Clift appealed to local motorcyclists to join the procession for the motorbike fan.
He added: ‘Ali has expressed a dear wish that she would absolutely love to see as many noisy motorbikes as possible to escort Parys on his final journey from her home to celebrate his life.’