Photo by Jon Enoch.
I recently went to see some of the Paralympics and was stunned by some of the skill and ability of the athletes. It really made me think about the strength and determination involved to rise to such a high level of ability in a world designed for the ‘able-bodied’. Indeed, seeing some of these individuals compete, it seemed strange to really think of them as ‘disabled’, they’re highly talented and possess abilities greater than the majority of the population.
London really raised the profile of disabled athletes and the closing ceremony was a spectacular example of this. One of the stars of the show was Viktoria Modesta, a singer and model who also happens to have had a below-the-knee amputation on one of her legs. Far from hiding it, Viktoria’s prosthesis is part of her unique look and she has various limbs for different occasions (and to accommodate the wide variety of platform heels she wears!). Looking through some of her photos, I spotted some more unusual artificial limbs. Viktoria has often worn pieces created by The Alternative Limb Project, who make imaginative and striking prosthetics that are also very wearable.
TALP director Sophie de Oliveira barata began her career by studying to create special effects prosthetics for film and tv and worked sculpting silicon limbs in a leading proesthetic centre before she set up her own studio. She collaborates with artists of various different mediums to create both ultra-realistic limbs and more fantastical and surreal pieces, tailored to the needs and imaginations of her clients.
These amazing limbs remind me of the carved wooden legs Alexander McQueen made for the athlete and double-leg amputee Aimee Mullens. They’re fascinating, beautiful and exclusive – pieces of art that can only be worn by a select few. My ordinary legs seem awfully boring in comparison! Work like this seems to speak about how difference can be interesting and exceptional, in the many ways in which it presents.
Sophie in her amazing studio.