15th Delegates Convention of VDMFK in Copenhagen

Delegates Convention  2023 KopenhagenThe association of mouth and foot painting artists all over the world (VDMFK) held its 15th delegate convention from July 2nd to 6th, 2023 in Copenhagen. After Rio de Janeiro in 2019, this was the first convention after the corona crisis. A total of 35 mouth and foot painters from all 5 continents met for this occasion in Denmark’s capital.

Continue reading

14th Delegates’ Convention in Rio de Janeiro

The Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists in the World e.V. (VDMFK) held its 14th Delegates’ Convention in Rio de Janeiro from 23 September to 26 September 2019. For the first time the worldwide mouth and foot painters presented themselves in Brazil.

On the occasion of the elections to the board, the mouth painter Ann-Lund Wahlberg from Denmark was elected as a new member of the board of directors. She is a well-known personality in her home country and grinds mainly dreamy, avant-garde motifs that enliven the fantasies of young and old.  Mrs. Ann-Lund Wahlberg thus takes the place of Ruth Christensen, a long-standing member of the board, who has shaped the fate and politics of the Association for over 30 years. Still today she is very popular among the mouth and foot painters.

A highlight of the event was undoubtedly the international exhibition in the marvellous premises of the Cidade des Artes, where more than 100 art works painted by mouth or foot painting artists from all five continents were presented to the public.

Delegated mouth and foot painters but also local artists took part in the exhibition.  In addition to the welcome speech by President Serge Maudet, the Deputy Mayor of the City of Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Geraldo Nogueira, also addressed some warm greetings to the numerous guests and artists. The opening ceremony on 24 September 2019 was rounded off with a musical performance by the Brazilian Marine Corps.

60th anniversary of the VDMFK

One hundred mouth and foot painters gathered in the Spanish city of Barcelona from 9 to 14 April 2017 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the VDMFK. In addition, a General Assembly was held and members of the new Executive Board were elected at this celebration. Members of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists have always elected their President and Board themselves, and they also decide on key strategic decisions of the VDMFK.

The celebratory week began with an opening evening at which mouth and foot painters who had arrived from all over the world were welcomed. VDMFK President Mr Serge Maudet took the opportunity to greet the artists personally during this evening. On his behalf, but also on behalf of all members of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Board of the Association, he bid the artists a cordial welcome to the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Association, which was created by Arnulf Erich Stegmann, and thanked them for attending. In his further remarks, he spoke of the values which the VDMFK family shares and espouses. He emphasised how pleased he was to celebrate this special event with the artists and to spend a convivial time with them.

In addition, the new book “60 Years of the VDMFK – History, Artists and Pictures” was presented on Monday evening. Each Full Member and each Associate Member is introduced and presented on a separate page in this book. Furthermore, the decision was taken not to offer a detailed account of the Association’s history, but to let the pictures speak for themselves and to integrate them into the book in the form of a collage with captions. A focal point of the history also consists of the three former Presidents of the VDMFK. The contribution of Arnulf Erich Stegmann, Marlyse Tovae and Eros Bonamini, and their tireless efforts in developing the VDMFK for mouth and foot painters around the world, is highlighted in separate chapters.

One of the highlights of the evening was the appearance of Full Member Ms Simona Atzori from Italy, who began her performance with a foot painting component which then merged seamlessly into a dance segment.

During the General Assembly, the Full and Associate Members elected two new Board members. These new elections were necessary following the death of Board member Mr Trevor C. Wells and the retirement of Board member Prof Manuel Parreño. After several ballots, the Full and Associate Members elected Ms Soon-Yi Oh, a foot painter from South Korea, and Mr William Sharman, a mouth painter from New Zealand, onto the Board of the VDMFK. In addition, two highly deserving figures in the VDMFK stood for selection as Honorary Members: the long-serving publishing director Ms Roswitha Malsch from Italy and the outgoing Executive Board member Prof Manuel Parreño from Spain. The two were unanimously granted honorary membership status.

The General Assembly was also used to boost the awareness of mouth and foot painting. With this in mind, artists went to the Sagrada Familia and to the Cathedral, where they carried out a painting demonstration. This event attracted a lot of attention from tourists and residents alike.

A wonderful exhibition of works by mouth and foot painting artists was staged in the Museo Maritim de Barcelona, a venue full of history. 216 original paintings and two sculptures by 118 artists from 35 countries were presented at the show. Catalan Minister of Culture Mr Santi Vila Vicente delivered the official opening address. Honorary members included Ms Laia Ortiz, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona and Ms Maite Fandos, deputy of the City of Barcelona. The exhibition was held from 12 to 17 April 2017 and attracted the interest of thousands of visitors.

Farewell of board member Trevor C. Wells

Trevor C. Wells passed away on 13 September 2015. In Trevor Wells the Association has lost one of its most important artists. His landscape motifs were painted with extreme subtlety and detail, while the light influences were so vivid that many an observer mistook his paintings for photos. His pictures are still a major crowd puller today when they are shown at exhibitions. They come across as intelligible and real, which is precisely why they are so popular with a wide public. The same can be said of Trevor Wells as a person. In his 15 years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association, his honest and upright attitude was appreciated by all his colleagues.

Delegates’ Convention in Athens

Delegates from the constituencies gathered at the Delegates’ Convention which was staged this time around in the Greek capital of Athens from 29 September to 4 October. Athens was the venue of the 2014 Delegates’ Convention which was held from 29 September to 4 October. 36 Full Members, to which the entire Managing Board belonged, travelled to Greece to conduct necessary statutory business and discuss the articles of association. The schedule also included the opening of an international exhibition as well as various social events.

International exhibition

The international exhibition was held at the Zappeion in Athens. A total of 145 works by 59 mouth and foot painters from all over the world were displayed on this occasion. First inaugurated in 1888, the Zappeion is a classicist building located on the southern edge of the centre of Athens. The VDMFK’s international exhibition was held at this historic site from 2-8 October, with the opening ceremonies taking place outdoors in the atrium. With its display of 145 works by 59 mouth and foot painters from all over the world, the exhibition was staged by VDMFK President Serge Maudet, Christine Papageorgiou, Member of the Board of the Chamber of Arts and Professor Emmanuel Mikroyannaki, President of the Parnassos Association of Literature. VDMFK President Maudet spoke a few words on behalf of the Association.

As he emphasised: “Our Association comprises 800 artists from all five continents of the globe. We paint our ideas and send our work to the Association, which selects works and reproduces them on cards and calendars in cooperation with local publishers. When visiting the exhibition and looking at the paintings, we urge you not to think that these works of art were painted by people with disabilities. Anyone can see that each picture constitutes a piece of poetry. We mouth and foot painters share a common desire to express ourselves.”

Vienna 2013: Vernissage on the occasion of the general assembly

On the occasion of the General Assembly the VDMFK presented an international vernissage with more than 200 works on 4th of July.  The event took place in the Hofburg of Vienna under the auspices of Austrian Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer.

The exhibition gave extensive insight into the current work of famous artists from 29 different countries. The grand opening in the Ceremonial Hall was conducted by the painter Prof. Herwig Zens and the Secretary-General of Amnesty International Mag. Heinz Patzelt.

On the general assembly Serge Maudet was elected the 4th President of the VDMFK.

Farewell of president Eros Bonamini

In 1984 the Italian was elected to the association board for the first time. 18 years later, on the occasion of the 9th general assembly held in Lissabon in 2002, Eros Bonamini was elected 3rd president of the VDMFK. He stayed successfully in his office until his death in November 2012.

Taipeh 2012: Artists’ meeting

From 1st to 6th of October 2012 the VDMFK arranged an artists’ meeting in Taipeh, the capital of Taiwan. 62 mouth and foot painting artists from five countries took part in it.

Taipeh served as the venue for another VDMFK artists’ meeting. 62 mouth and foot painting artists from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China took part in it.

In addition, many participants came from the VDMFK managing board. President Eros Bonamini could not take part for health reasons. Ruth Christensen from Denmark, Serge Maudet from France, Trevor C. Wells from England and Kun-Shan Hsieh from Taiwan travelled to Taiwan.

Welcoming by the managing director

On the opening evening managing director Mario Famlonga spoke to the artists. He stressed: « Due to the great number of full members, associate members and stipendiaries in Asia and the South Pacific Region the board decided to have this artists’ meeting in two parts. In May this year our artists from India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand met for a five-day convention in Singapore. For this week we have invited artists from Taiwan, China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong to Taipeh. I am very happy that we are able to have this convention here in Taiwan. Our association has always been ideally represented here by our board member Mr. Kun-Shan Hsieh and the publisher Mr. Henry Ching.»

Significance of the meetings

Furthermore, the director mentioned the significance of the artists’ meetings: «The word artists’ meeting already shows that this week, you, the artists, are the centre of attention. This convention is supposed to support your painting talent and urge you to further development. This week’s highlight is the opening of our own exhibition, which is located in one of the most visited and most important monuments of Taipeh: the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial. It is a special honor and privilege that we can present our artists’ works in this magical surrounding. The fact that even the President of Taiwan will attend the opening ceremony shows the hospitality and tolerance of this country. »

The central element of the artists’ meeting in Taipeh were the workshops for mouth and foot painting artists. All in all, they took more than 11 hours over various days. The instruction hours were attended by professors that showed different tips and tricks to the artists and helped them to improve their skills.

Singapore 2012: Artists’ meeting

The artists’ meeting in Singapore was accompanied by an international exhibition in the Sunctec Exhibition Centre. The exhibition was opened by Christopher Yeow, managing director of the ‘Very Special Arts’ Singapore Ltd. and Eros Bonamini, president of the VDMFK.

The exhibition in the Sunctec Exhibition Centre in Singapore included 175 works by artists from all over the world. At the exhibition opening the association welcomed Christopher Yeow, managing director of the ‘Very Special Arts’ Singapore Ltd. In addition to the managing board of the VDMFK and the mouth and foot painting artists the opening was attended by public figures of Singapore.

VDMFK president Eros Bonamini and Christopher Yeow, managing director of the ‘Very Special Arts’ Singapore Ltd., opened the exhibition by cutting a red ribbon.

Bonamini described the activities of the VDMFK as follows:

« Our association brings around 800 painters from all continents together. We paint our ideas and send our works to the association, which reproduces and offers them to publishers all over the world. The paintings are printed on calendars and postcards and the sales profit is distributed among the painters. » At the end of his speech Eros Bonamini talked about mouth and foot painting in general: « Of course, this exhibition shows our works that were painted by mouth or foot. By this, we can prove those wrong, who doubt we exist and that it is even possible to paint in this special way at such a high quality. For me painting is the most beautiful thing in the world. By painting I not only do what I love, but also earn money. »

The international exhibition during the artists’ meeting in Singapore showed a total of 175 works of mouth and foot painting artists from all around the world.

Mexico City 2010: 12th convention of delegates

From 12th to 16th of April 2010 many artists came together in Mexico City to take part not only in the convention of delegates of the VDMFK, but also in the artists’ meeting for mouth and foot painting artists from different countries of South and Central America.

All in all, the manager of the VDMFK welcomed 36 delegates from all continents plus 60 mouth and foot painting artists from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru and Venezuela that took part in the meeting. Mexico City had already hosted an artists’ meeting in 1994 and had proved to be a suitable venue for such an event.

In addition to a painting workshop that lasted for several days, important votings took place during the convention. Longtime board members Manuel Parrenõ and Trevor Wels were confirmed in their offices for six more years. Also the charismatic president Eros Bonamini got reelected. A collective trip to the temple complex of Teotihuacan made the week perfect.

Buenos Aires 2009: Artists’ meeting

From 12th to 16th of October 2009 the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists arranged an artists’ meeting in Buenos Aires. In its more than 50-year long history this was the first time the VDMFK visited South America.

69 mouth and foot painting artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia and the three board members president Eros Bonamini, Ruth Christensen and Serge Maudet came together in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, to take part in the 7th artists’ meeting in the history of the VDMFK. This was the first time in its history that the VDMFK visited South America. It has always been important to the association to hold its meetings in cities of cultural significance – no doubt Buenos Aires is one of them.

Due to the great number of full members, associate members and stipendiaries from South America it was necessary to split the artists’ meeting. In that week, artists from Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Argentina were invited. The board had decided to arrange a second artists’ meeting for mouth and foot painting artists from South and Central America in April of the following year.

In addition to the painting workshops the artists had various possibilities for exchanging their experiences, refreshing old contacts and getting to know new artists. The week was concluded by a collective visit to an Argentine cattle farm. The artists enjoyed their five days together with the managing board and the directorate of the VDMFK.

Vienna 2007: Tenth General Assembly

The VDMFKfamily gathered in the Austrian capital Vienna to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. The highlights of this week included a ceremony at which this Golden Jubilee was fittingly celebrated, and an International Exhibition held in the rooms of the world-famous Albertina Museum.

Shanghai 2005: Eleventh Delegates’ Convention

From 11th to 16th April 2005, the Delegates of the electoral regions gathered in Shanghai to hold their 11th Convention. The VDMFK family thus met in the People’s Republic of China for the first time, and, also for the first time, a Delegates’ Convention was led by the new President of the Association, Mr Eros Bonamini. The two central themes of the conference were as follows: firstly, the Managing Board delivered a report on the period from the General Assembly in 2002 up to the Delegates’ Convention in Shanghai. This stated that, at the time of this congress, VDMFK was supporting 686 mouth and foot painting artists as Full Members, Associate Members or Scholarship Holders. Secondly, it was also necessary to confirm Board Members Trevor C. Wells from Great Britain and Prof. Manuel Parreño in their posts. The Delegates confirmed both in their post as Board Members amid general acclaim, so that following the Delegates’ Convention of Shanghai, the Managing Board was composed as follows: Eros Bonamini, President, Ruth Christensen, Kun-Shan Hsieh, Serge Maudet, Prof. Manuel Parreño, Trevor C. Wells and legal adviser Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner.

Lisbon 2002: Ninth General Assembly

From 21st to 26th October 2002, 64 Full Members and 38 Associate Members gathered in Lisbon, to hold the ninth General Assembly of the Association. The central concern of this assembly was the election of the President, which the passing of Marlyse Tovae had made necessary, and also the Managing Board elections. It was necessary to hold a new election to fill the positions of the two deceased Board Members Marlyse Tovae and Bruce Peardon. The Managing Board requested that the members elect Serge Maudet, mouth painter from France, and Kun-Shan Hsieh, mouth painter from Taiwan, to the Managing Board. The General Assembly affirmed its confidence in both candidates and unanimously elected them both to the Managing Board of the VDMFK. Following this, the election for the President of the Association took place. This election was carried out in a secret ballot. Of the 96 votes cast, 83 were for Eros Bonamini. He was thus elected the third President of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World. To conclude the conference, the Managing Board proposed the bestowal of Honorary Membership on Ms Gaby Armbruster from the USA.

2001: Farewell to President Marlyse Tovae

On 28th July 2001, Marlyse Tovae passed away in her city of residence, Geneva, after a short, severe illness. The mouth and foot painters of the world mourned their President, who had led the Association for over 15 years.

Sydney 2000: Tenth Delegates’ Convention

In the new millennium, the Association invited the Delegates to the Convention in Sydney from 7th to 12th March 2000. For the first time in its history, VDMFK was thereby a guest in “Down Under”. It was necessary to hold a new election, as Board Member Charles Fowler had passed away only four weeks after the General Assembly in Vienna. The Managing Board therefore proposed Mr Trevor C. Wells, mouth painter from Great Britain, for election. No further proposals were submitted to the Convention, and Trevor C. Wells was elected to the Managing Board of VDMFK amid general acclaim.

Vienna 1997: Eighth General Assembly

From 8th to 12th April 1997, 63 Full Members and 39 Associate Members from 32 countries celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Association in the Austrian capital Vienna. Only a few Full Members and Associate Members were absent from these festivities for health reasons. At this event, the mouth and foot painters from all over the world were able to experience an impressive week, whose highlight was a book presentation and an International Exhibition at Vienna City Hall.

Austrian President, Dr. Thomas Klestil, undertook the Honorary Patronage of this week. The Association could look back on an imposing past – something which was confirmed in Vienna in many different ways. Thus, in April 1997, the Association numbered 80 Full Members and 54 Associate Members. In addition, VDMFK was also taking care of 333 Scholarship Holders at this time. 146 mouth and foot painters have passed away since the founding in 1957. VDMFK has thereby taken care of a total of 613 artists. These have come from a total of 61 countries. At the time of the General Assembly in Vienna, artists of the Association lived in 58 countries. Moreover, at the request of the Managing Board, the General Assembly resolved to bestow two more Honorary Memberships. Ludwig R. Wittig from Germany was accorded this honour. Honorary Membership was also bestowed on Mr Alfredo Iachelli. As Mr Iachelli had passed away a few weeks before the General Assembly in Vienna, this honour was awarded to him posthumously.

Rome 1992: Eighth Delegates’ Convention

The Delegates’ Convention from 30th March to 3rd April 1992 in Rome has special significance in the history of the Association. Firstly, extensive changes to the articles of association were approved at the conference. Secondly, the audience with Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Cathedral was certainly the highlight of the 50-year history of VDMFK. The Holy Father did not miss the opportunity of exchanging a few words with a number of mouth and foot painters, and giving them his blessing.

An extensive revision of the articles of association was a central item of the conference, a resolution which was unanimously passed by the Delegates. The membership possibilities were thereby expanded. Whereas, up to 1992, there had been only Full Members and Honorary Members, the Delegates passed completely new provisions for possible forms of membership at the Convention of 1992. The articles of association were thereby amended in Article 4 as follows:

“The Association recognizes the following forms of membership:
a.) Full Member
b.) Associate Member
c.) Honorary Member”

The membership possibilities were thus expanded to include the status of “Associate Member”. A further fundamental change concerned the procedure of electing the President. During Arnulf Erich Stegmann’s Presidentship, it was explicitly stipulated in the articles of association that he had been elected President of VDMFK for life. After his passing, the new stipulation was that the President would be elected for six years each time. In 1992, the Delegates changed this in the following provision: “The President will be elected for the next three Conventions by the Plenary Meeting.” With regard to the Managing Board, it was necessary to elect someone to fill the seat of the late Irene Schricker. In addition, a proposal to expand the Board by one person was approved. After the hitherto Board Members Eros Bonamini, Erich Macho and Charles Fowler were re-elected to general acclaim, the Delegates elected Ms Ruth Christensen, mouth painter from Denmark, and Mr Bruce Peardon, mouth painter from Australia, to the Managing Board in a written ballot.

London 1988: Seventh Delegates’ Convention

At the start of the Convention, Marlyse Tovae had some sad news to deliver to the Delegates. Two Managing Board Members, Elof Lundberg and Peter N. Spencer, had died since the last General Assembly in Madrid in 1985. The passing of these two Board Members resulted in the election of two new artists to the Board. In accordance with the new articles of association, the President only had to be elected every six years, for which reason no re-election of Marlyse Tovae as President took place. Since the hitherto Managing Board Members Ms Irene Schricker and Eros Bonamini stood for election once more, they were both re-elected to the Board to general acclaim. A secret written ballot was held to fill the newly vacant seats on the Board, Founding Member Erich Macho, foot painter from Austria, and Charles Fowler, mouth painter from Great Britain, were thereby elected to the Board. Following the Delegates’ Convention in 1988, the Managing Board of VDMFK was therefore composed as follows: Marlyse Tovae, President, Irene Schricker, Eros Bonamini, Erich Macho, Charles Fowler and legal adviser Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner. The Delegates also officially extended Honorary Membership of the AMFPA to two people who had performed special services to the Association since its founding. These two were Gustav Sturm and Hans Massberger.

Madrid 1985: Seventh General Assembly

Just under a year after the passing of Founding President Arnulf Erich Stegmann, the members gathered in Madrid to elect a new President of the Association at a General Assembly. The election of the President took place on 13th June 1985, in a secret written ballot. In all, six proposals were made, whereby three members proposed Mr Peter N. Spencer and three others proposed Ms Marlyse Tovae. Of the 64 votes cast, all were valid. There were 42 votes for the French foot painter Marlyse Tovae, whereby she was elected to the post of President of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painters of the World. Mr Peter N. Spencer accepted this choice and was the first to congratulate her. Marlyse Tovae expressed her thanks for her election and said: “It is a great honour for me, and I will do my best, and do what Mr. Stegmann would have wished.” The Managing Board also took the opportunity of presenting the development of VDMFK to the members. At the time of this General Assembly, over 200 mouth and foot painters belonged to the Association, as Full Members or Scholarship Holders. They came from a total of 41 countries.

Johannesburg 1984: Sixth Delegates’ Convention

The conference in Johannesburg made it clear that the growth of VDMFK was continuing unabated. In all, the Delegates approved the acceptance of a further 15 members and of 41 Scholarship Holders. However, the Convention was focused on two issues: firstly, due to the passing away of Board Member Charles Pasche, it was necessary to elect a new Board Member. Secondly, at the request of the Managing Board, the Delegates approved the expansion of the Board by one person. This led to the election of two new Board Members. Ms Irene Schricker, mouth painter from Germany, was thereby elected. She was one of the Founding Members of the Association. In addition, Johannesburg 1984 was the assembly at which the later President Eros Bonamini, mouth painter from Italy, was elected to the Managing Board. Also at this assembly, at the request of the Managing Board, the Delegates extended Honorary Membership to three people who had performed special services to the Association. These three people were Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner from Liechtenstein, Prof. Rossella Alberti from Italy and Mr Jakob Aeberli from Switzerland.

The Association Mourns its Founding President Arnulf Erich Stegmann

On 5th September 1984, Founding President Arnulf Erich Stegmann passed away at his birthplace and home Deisenhofen, near Munich. The mouth and foot painters of the world mourned their founder, to whom they owed so much.


Madrid 1981: Sixth General Assembly

From 25th to 28th March 1981, for the second time since 1963, the Full Members gathered to hold a General Assembly in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The Managing Board’s decision to give priority to holding a General Assembly rather than a Delegates’ Convention had several reasons. Firstly, the UNO had declared 1981 the “International Year of the Disabled“, and secondly, the 25th Jubilee of VDMFK was very close. At this General Assembly, the Managing Board took the opportunity of offering those present a comprehensive review of a quarter of a century of VDMFK. A report was published showing the milestones of VDMFK– from its founding in 1957 to 1981. Besides offering a chronological summary of the events and assemblies of the Association since its founding, the report also focused on the media reporting and public relations work of VDMFK. Furthermore, the report mentioned that, as of the date of the General Assembly of 1981, about 200 mouth and foot painters from 37 countries belonged to the Association. 18,147 works had been sent in by these, 4,716 of which had been reproduced. 310 international exhibitions had been organised and held by the Association throughout the world. In accordance with the articles of association, the members had to re-elect the Managing Board. The proposal to expand the Managing Board by one person was approved. The Managing Board proposed Mr Peter N. Spencer, mouth painter from Great Britain, as the new Board Member. He was to be the first VDMFK Board Member who had not belonged to the Founding Members of 1957.

Stockholm 1977: Fifth Delegates’ Convention

The fifth Delegates’ Convention of the Association in Stockholm in 1977 had a special significance. It was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of VDMFK. During the meeting, the Managing Board requested that a further two people should be officially made Honorary Members of VDMFK. These two were Ms Lucienne Uhlmann from Switzerland and Ms Henriette Windprechtinger from Austria.

Toronto 1974: Fourth Delegates’ Convention

At the Convention, the Managing Board took the opportunity of proposing the acceptance of two new Honorary Members who had performed valuable services to the Association. The Delegates unanimously approved this proposal, whereby two public figures, Mr Hubert Aigner from Germany and Ms Anda Amir from Israel were officially made Honorary Members.

Barcelona 1971: Third Delegates’ Convention

The development of VDMFK from a loose alliance of a few mouth and foot painting artists to an internationally-active Association with over 100 members also continued during the reporting period leading up to the Third Delegates’ Convention in Barcelona in 1971. At the time of the Assembly in the Spanish metropolis, 129 mouth and foot painters, who were composed of 47 Full Members and 79 Scholarship Holders, belonged to VDMFK.

This growth also led to the third Delegates’ Convention’s being focused on a change in the articles of association. At the request of the Board, it was proposed that the name hitherto used – “Assocíation of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists”, should be changed to “Assocíation of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World”. Those present passed a resolution to change the official name of VDMFK to “Assocíation of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World”. This official name was to remain valid until today.

With deep sadness, the Delegates learned of the death of Board Member Eugen Pirard, who had been voted onto the Managing Board at the Delegates’ Convention in Toronto in 1965. This occurrence made it necessary to elect a new Managing Board Member. After Ms Marlyse Tovae and Mr Charles Pasche were unanimously re-elected, the Delegates elected Mr Elof Lundberg, mouth painter from Sweden, to the Managing Board. Following the third Delegates’ Convention in Barcelona in 1971, the Managing Board was composed as follows: Arnulf Erich Stegmann, President, Marlyse Tovae, Charles Pasche, Elof Lundberg and legal adviser Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner.

Furthermore, at this conference, at the request of the Managing Board, the Delegates approved the bestowal of Honorary Membership on four people who had performed valuable services to the Association. These four were: Ms Maria Hantzigianni, Greece; Ms McKenzie, Australia; Mr Pastor Poul Jörgensen, Denmark and Mr Erwin Pittroff, Germany.

Bombay 1969: Second Delegates’ Convention

The Convention was focused on the development of the Association since the last meeting in Toronto in 1965. President Arnulf Erich Stegmann was thereby able to draw a positive conclusion and to announce with great pleasure that, for the first time in the history of the Association, the number of Full and Scholarship Holders had exceeded 100. At the same time, the number of countries where VDMFK was represented had also increased. Since the Delegates’ Convention in Bombay, three new countries – Turkey, Israel and Kenya, had appeared on the Association’s map. 47 Full Members and 69 Scholarship Holders were currently being looked after by VDMFK. At this Assembly, the Delegates also had to decide on a proposal made by the Managing Board, that Vladimiro Bubola from Italy should be received into the Association as an Honorary Member. The Delegates unanimously approved this proposal, whereby Vladimiro Bubola became the first Honorary Member of the Association.

Toronto 1965: First Delegates’ Convention

The first Delegates’ Convention took place in 1965 in Toronto.

As well as the Managing Board members, six delegates of the electoral groups and six guest delegates from North and South America also gathered in Toronto, to participate in this Assembly. In addition, it was the first time that an Assembly was held outside Europe. President Stegmann joyfully announced that the number of members had now reached 80, and the Association was at that point already represented in 25 countries of the world.

With the 2nd Delegates’ Convention in Bombay, a meeting of the VDMFK was for the first time held in the eastern part of the globe. From this time onwards, the Association was also represented in Turkey, Israel and Kenya.

In the same year, the later VDMFK President Eros Bonamini was received into the Association as a full member. At the President’s recommendation, Wladimiro Bubola was appointed the first honorary member of the Association. The rapid growth of the VDMFK from a loose alliance of a few mouth and foot painters to a worldwide-active association with more than 100 members called for a change in the statutes regarding its name. Thus, the name “Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists” was changed to the “Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the World”. This official name was destined to remain valid right up to the present day.

Year by year, the Association was attracting ever more public attention. One contributing factor was certainly the large number of exhibitions which were organised by the Association and its publishing house partners. Painting demonstrations, at which mouth and foot painters displayed their painting techniques live, always aroused great interest. This is the only way for people without physical disabilities to understand what an extraordinary achievement it is to paint motifs with such faithfulness to detail by mouth or foot.

Madrid 1963: Fifth General Assembly

The fifth General Assembly of 1963 in Madrid occupies a special place in the history of the Association. At this meeting, the articles of association of VDMFK underwent a fundamental revision, which was unanimously approved by all the members present. This new version of the articles of association was necessary, as the number of Full Members and Scholarship Holders was constantly growing, and, from 1963 onwards, was scattered over all the continents. For, from the time of this General Assembly, the Association was represented by 54 Full Members and Scholarship Holders in 22 countries.

In his annual report, President Arnulf Erich Stegmann explained why the change to the articles of association was necessary in the following words: “As we now have a large number of members – not only in Europe, but also in America, Australia and Asia, we must make decisions which are in keeping with the current circumstances. We hope that the financial basis of our Association will continue to strengthen, for a host of young artists who are currently attending art schools and academies must then become Full Members of our Association.” According to the minutes of the meeting, the President also explained: “The acceptance into the Association of more and more artists from non-European countries, has also made it necessary to introduce a change concerning the General Assembly.” Specifically, this meant that through including the Delegates’ Convention in the articles of association, the members present approved an expansion of the official bodies of VDMFK. Moreover, from this point on the Delegates’ Convention became the supreme official organ of the Association and was composed of representatives from three electoral regions. These were: a) Europe and Africa, b) all South, Central and North American states and c) the rest of the world, as defined in the articles of association. For every seven members, an electoral district could send one member to the Delegates’ Convention.

The tasks which were transferred to the Delegates’ Convention were diverse. They included, among other tasks, the election of the Managing Board and the passing of resolutions concerning changes to the articles of association. The Plenary Meeting continued to be an official body of VDMFK and it regarded itself as an assembly of all members. It was to gather now and again, as decided by the Delegates’ Convention. The same competencies and tasks were transferred to it “as to the Delegates’ Convention, but with the exception of the elections”, as can be read in the articles of association of 1963. Furthermore, it was laid down in the articles of association that the President and Initiator of the Association, Arnulf Erich Stegmann, had been elected to his post for life at the Founding Meeting.

1961: Fourth General Assembly in Vienna

20 of the 24 members gathered in Vienna on 4th and 5th June 1961 to take part in the fourth General Assembly of the Association. It thereby became clear that the Association was not going to stop at the borders of Europe. The Australian Athol Thompson was the first artist from outside Europe to joint the Association. In addition, the list of Scholarship Holders supported by the Association was constantly getting longer and more international. With the support of an artist from South Africa and an artist from Argentina, from 1961 onwards VDMFK was already represented on four continents. VDMFK’s increasingly international character also became evident in the fact that, in October 1960, an exhibition took place outside Europe for the first time. It was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and inspired several different media to report on the Association. At the General Assembly in Vienna, two innovations were brought in. The first was that, for the first time, the members met at two year intervals, and the second was that for the first time no elections to the Board were necessary, as the General Assembly two years before had extended the term of office to four years.

Edinburgh 1959: Third General Assembly

Due to the passing away of Corry F. Riet, the later President Marlyse Tovae from Switzerland was elected to the Managing Board at the 3rd General Assembly in 1959 in Edinburgh. Four years later, the VDMFK had already achieved its aim of having artists from all the earth’s continents as members of the Association. From this point on, it was a worldwide-active organisation, which championed the interests of disabled mouth and foot painters in order to enable them to live free from financial hardship. From the time of this 5th General Assembly, the VDMFK already numbered 54 full members and scholarship holders. Due to the extremely rapid increase in members from non-European countries, a change concerning the General Assembly was now necessary. The Delegates’ Convention now became the highest organ of the VDMFK and was composed of representatives from three electoral groups.

These were: Europe and Africa, all South, Central and North American countries, and the rest of the world.

Every electoral group with at least seven members could send a member to the Delegates’ Convention. Among the tasks of this Delegates’ Convention were the election of the Managing Board and also the passing of resolutions concerning any change to the statutes. At that time, it was laid down in the statutes that the President and Founder, Arnulf Erich Stegmann, had been elected by the General Assembly for life.

Paris 1958: Second General Assembly

Just over a year later, the VDMFK family met in Paris for the second General Assembly. At this point, the members already numbered 21. An additional 12 young artists had been granted scholarships. 20 mouth and foot painters from 16 countries undertook the journey to the capital of France to take part in this General Assembly from 6th to 8th May 1958.

Founding Meeting in March 1957

On 19th and 20th March 1957, 16 mouth and foot painters from different European countries met together in Vaduz, the capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, to hold the founding meeting of the Association of Mouth and Foot Painters. The initiator of this founding was Arnulf Erich Stegmann from Germany. It was he who had the idea of founding such an association, and who, on his own initiative, searched for mouth and foot painters who would welcome this plan and would therefore want to be founding members. In all, he was able to find 18 artists who were ready to join the Association. He achieved his goal and life work on those two spring days when 16 of the 18 members gathered at the Waldhotel above Vaduz, in order to carry out the official founding of VDMFK. This was the birth of a more than 50-year success story.

During the Founding Meeting, Arnulf Erich Stegmann gave an address in which he described his plans. He thereby emphasised: “In 1947 – that is, exactly 10 years ago – I resolved that in the future I would work together with all my colleagues who, like myself, create works of art by mouth or foot, if these colleagues were willing to do so. […] Why? In this world where we live, which is often so hostile towards the physically disabled, such an association offers a huge possibility for more easily overcoming their difficulties, whether in the area of art or of life in general. It is quite simply sad and absurd, that despite having achieved the highest standards in their artistic work, severely physically disabled artists (as is demonstrated here over and over again) are not allowed to state publicly that these works have not been created in the normal way, and that they have come into being using the mouth or foot as a substitute for the hand. […] Yet for us, this work, this artistic creativity, represents the key to freedom. This is why, in the autumn of 1947, I asked the German artist Bruno Schmitz-Hochburg to work together with us. Then, in 1952, the Austrian mouth and foot painter Erich Macho came along: now we were a three-leafed clover. When I heard that the Swiss foot painter Charles Pasche was living on Lake Geneva, I visited him, and our clover now had four leaves. Later on, I travelled to Holland and we joined forces with Miss Corry F. Riet and Miss Riek de Vos. In Sweden, I visited Mr Henry Ullberg, who is permanently confined to his bed; he was more than willing to work with us. In France, we found Madeleine Jars, Geneviève Barbedienne and Marie-Louise Tovae, in Belgium, Eugène Pirard, and then Elof Lundberg and Sune Fick back in Sweden, Irene Schricker and Cefischer (Carl Fischer) in Germany, de Munter in Belgium again, Evi Thor in Sweden, and Rolf Thomassen in Norway.”

The agenda on that day, 20th March 1957, consisted of eight items. These included elections to the Managing Board. After President Arnulf Erich Stegmann stated that he would not be standing for election, since, as the founder and initiator of VDMFK, he could hold the office of President for life, and also that legal adviser Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner did not need to be elected, it became necessary to find two more Board Members. At President Arnulf Erich Stegmann’s suggestion, the two artists Corry F. Riet, a mouth painter from the Netherlands, and Charles Pasche, a foot painter from Switzerland, stood for election. Both were elected to the Managing Board by a large majority.

One milestone with regard to the openness of VDMFK was also reached on that day. At the request of legal adviser Dr. Dr. Herbert Batliner, the following paragraph was included in the articles of association: VDMFK has a neutral attitude with regard to religious, philosophical and political beliefs. Any preferential treatment or discrimination due to the religious, philosophical or political beliefs of a member is therefore impermissible.” With this passage, the Association formally opened itself to all cultures, and it is characterised TODAY by its great openness and high regard for the disabled artists, irrespective of the part of the world and cultural group from which a mouth or foot painter may come.

Scroll to Top