Tetraplegic, foot and mouth artist, paralympic rugby coach and amazing achiever despite his handicaps.
In 1980 Grant was approached by an amazing man, Bruce Hopkins, who could only move his head. Despite this apparently enormous disability he had an incredible presence. Bruce suggested that he try painting and proceeded to show him how to paint with a brush in his mouth.
His first efforts were terrible but he insisted he keep trying. In 1981 Grant received a small scholarship from the AMFPA and in 1988 was made a full member. His artwork has given him the ability to earn a good income, which in turn means independence and a greater quality of life. He has travelled to many parts of the world and met many wonderful people.
Before his accident playing rugby at the age of fifteen, Grant wanted to be a pilot. The idea of being a professional artist never entered his mind. Because of this he likes to paint many different subjects including landscapes, still life, Christmas scenes and flowers as he gets a thrill out of creating a painting that captures the subject matter in a realistic form. He paints mainly in acrylics now though he has used oil and water colour in the past. He still has the first two paintings he did with his mouth and they hang in his art studio. They are a reminder of where he has come from in terms of his art as well as proof that anything is possible if you never give up. With every painting he produces that is successful, he is left feeling really great! That feeling is only equalled by the comments of other people who like his work – what better job satisfaction can you get.
As well as success in art, Grant has enjoyed great success in sports - both in wheelchair rugby and in air rifle shooting. His achievements include:
• Discipline(s): Wheelchair Rugby, Target Shooting – Air Rifle
• Classification: 1.0 point, SH2
• Disability: Tetraplegic
Sports career highlights:
• First representing NZ at 1995 World Cup in Switzerland - bronze
• First captaining NZ at 1996 Atlanta Paralympics - bronze
• 1998 World Cup in Toronto – silver and selected as best 1.0 pointer
• Playing in front of 10,000 people at 2000 Sydney Paralympics - bronze
• Coach of Wheel Blacks to 2004 Athens Paralympics - gold
• Coach of Wheel Blacks to 2006 Christchurch World Championships – silver
• Coach of Wheel Blacks to 2008 Beijing Paralympics – fifth (character building!)
• Success at Toastmasters NZ : National finalist, prepared speech section 1991 Winner, National Impromptu Speech Contest 1994
• Various art awards
• Awarded MNZM in 2004 New Years Honors for services to the disabled community and sport
• 2005 Aucklander of the Year
• 2007 Kings College Old Collegian of the Year
• 2012 Southwell School ‘Associate of Honor’
Public Speaking/ Media Experience:
• Several T.V. interviews, Good Morning, News, Holmes, Breakfast.
• Short documentaries, Jim's Car Show, Disability programme etc.
• Newspaper and radio interviews.
• Numerous public speaking engagements to both large and small audiences.
• Toastmasters – see above
• Was an Associate Producer and a presenter for the television series, "Attitude", produced by Robin Scott-Vincent dealing with disability issues on a Sunday morning.
• Receptionist – Vision Wallcoverings 1982 - 1989
• Hospital Aide – Spinal Unit 1988 - 1991
• Artist – Mouth & Foot Painting Artists 1981 – present
• Consultant and reporter for "Attitude" programme 2004 – 2008
• Beijing Performance Director – Paralympics NZ 2006 – 2008
• High Performance Director – Paralympics NZ 2008 – 2011
• High Performance Consultant 2011 – present
• Elected to the VDMFK International Board 2017 – present
• Disability awareness & accident prevention.
• The Wheel Blacks Athens Gold medal adventure and the world of High Performance Sport.
• Painting using your mouth instead of your hand – the tale of a reluctant artist.
• MC for corporate functions.
• Change management the Wheel Black way.
• After dinner speeches for entertainment – tall tales from a unique four wheeled perspective.