Mouth artist’s 20 year journey

Keith Jansz in the studio
Keith Jansz in the studio

A former stockbroker who credits painting with helping him through the devastation of becoming tetraplegic is marking 20 years since his accident with exhibitions of his work.

Keith Jansz was an active sporty 33-year-old who had just run the London Marathon, when he was involved in a serious crash.

He had set off from his home in Steeple Claydon to go to work, but woke up hours later in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, paralysed from the neck down.

Mr Jansz car had plunged into a ditch, and his life would never be the same again.

Keen to get back home after the accident, Mr Jansz only stayed at the Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Centre for six months, in favour of being cared for at home by his wife Cindy.

But on his arrival, the true scale of the challenges and limitations he now faced.

He said: “I broke my neck at C56 which means I am paralysed from the chest down, I cannot use my hands and I have limited use of my arms.

“Just a month before my crash I had run the London Marathon and I was really physically fit.

“After the accident I couldn’t do anything for myself and I descended into a deep, dark well of depression.”

He added: “Going from having such a sporty and physical state of mind to having to be fed by other people. Self esteem and self respect go out of the window.”

But help was at hand, in the shape of a book called Painters First, given to Keith by his mother-in-law.

The book, which was a biography of mouth and foot painting artists inspired Keith to give it a go himself.

Cindy arranged for Mr Jansz to meet with mouth artist Trevor Wells, which further inspired him, and he thrilled to be accepted as a student artist by the Mouth And Foot Painting Association.

After receiving training from the association, Mr Jansz honed his skills using adapted equipment and is a now a highly respected artist in his own right.

Indeed, Mr Jansz’s original paintings sell for anything up to £4,500.

Mr Jansz, who enjoys exploring light in his paintings, as well as the discipline of painting the human figure, said: “There are enough bad things going on in the world, and enough sad things that I could paint.

“But my paintings are about light, and elevating people, it’s wonderful to do and I’m very lucky.”

As well as painting himself,

Mr Jansz, who now lives in Finemere, travels around giving speeches to groups and organisations.

His aim is to inspire others, and to mark the 20th anniversary of his accident he is doing just that, by holding two solo exhibitions to mark all he and his family have achieved.

He said: “These two exhibitions are a statement, a statement of what I have managed to achieve and the journey that I’ve taken.

“My wife has always been by my side and she has taken that journey too,

“She is now an art historian after studying at the University of Buckingham, so we are both involved in the art world.”

He added: “Before my accident I never saw the light that greeted me in the morning when I was rushing to meetings and all of these things that we think are so important.

“I know now that I am very lucky to have the life that I do.”

The first exhibition Keith is holding will take place in Oxford at The Gallery in the town hall.

The exhibit runs from June 6-13, to find out more visit www.museumofoxford.org

And until July 5, a second exhibition is being held at 78 Derngate in Northampton.

Entitled, the Inspiration of Light, the show is in conjunction with the Bassett-Lowke Society model railway exhibition.

Mr Jansz said: “The exhibition in Northampton is going really well, I have been 
there this week to meet visitors and we have made a few sales already.”