Rev Glenn Barnett



Glenn was 15 years old when a diving accident left him paralysed from the neck down.

A few years later, a four year old boy asked Glenn to draw him a picture and this prompted him to try and draw by holding a pen in his mouth. Glenn was satisfied with the result and within a month he had progressed to watercolours.

Glenn contact MFPA after seeing a documentary on the television about mouth-painting. He had only been painting for five years when his work was first published in 1971. Glenn became a Full Member in 1974.

He has completed a number of university courses including a Bachelor of Arts, a Diploma in Divinity, a Graduate Diploma from the Bible College of South Australia, a Graduate Certificate from the Trinity Uniting Church Theological College and a Master of Arts in Theology. Glenn is an ordained Minister of the Uniting Church.

He has also studied the history of art at Adelaide University and was briefly tutored by an art master of St Peters College.

Glenn is well known for his landscapes and his favourite subject in the Flinders Ranges. He started using watercolours, then progressed to oils, and is now working with acrylics.

Glenn gives talks and demonstrations at schools, community clubs and does face-painting at shopping centres, school fetes and local art shows.

He lives with his wife in Port Lincoln.


Tell me a little about yourself... where are you from, where did you grow up.. what was your childhood like?
Born in Port Lincoln, South Australia. First 15 years in Port Lincoln. From a working class family. Good all round sports person. Diving accident at Port Lincoln in 1962 left me a high level quadriplegic. Flown to Adelaide the next day for treatment. Began life as a quadriplegic. 12 months in hospital then home to my family who had moved to Adelaide.

How did you first hear about MFPA?
Saw a brief article on the television in the late 1960s about people painting with their mouth - I had already begun painting before I saw this.

What inspired you to join MFPA?
Eric Krell, informed them about me then Frank Jackson visited me and encouraged me to join MFPA. Frank did all the work necessary for me to join MFPA (I am truly grateful for all of his work).

Describe yourself in one word. Why that word?
Christian. My faith determines my life in every area. I would say that I am a determined and diligent person.

What is your artistic medium of choice? Why that medium?
Acrylics. After starting to do demonstrations/lectures about my art work I went from oil paints to acrylics because of the ability to paint faster.

What has been your most touching or amazing moment you've experienced as an artist?
Joining MFPA, it changed my life unbelievably. Every time I win first prize in an open art exhibition.

What other artists have been inspirational to you in your work?
Arnuld Stegmann, his story and drive. Paul Green (an Australian landscape artist). Eric Krell.

What’s your favourite art work?
I have many.

What is your dream project?
To continue painting.

On average, how long does it take to finish a painting?
One to two weeks, depending on the size.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Comparison is not a good idea.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
An Aboriginal paraplegic lady once told me to look at trees and notice that they were not just green leaves.

Professionally, what’s your goal?
To continue to paint for as long as I can.

What would you say to any aspiring MFPA artists?
I usually tell them the story of MFPA, the journey to full membership and the amazing privilege it is to join such a group along with the rewards. Unfortunately our Health Professionals seem to look down on mouth or foot painting without any understanding of it. Also there is little incentive from our Government Social Security system.

Anything else you'd like to mention that I didn't ask?
I think we need to try to arrange to get into Spinal Cord Rehabilitation System on an annual basis to plant the idea into patients. This can also be relevant for other disabilities.

Artist Video