I heard this interview on BBC Radio 4 (Friday 28 Sept’18);
Emma and Helen talk about being unable to breast feed because of a physical condition (insufficient glandular tissue in the breast).
A better understanding could have improved their shared experience. LET’S TALK BREAST…
Breastfeeding has been one of the great themes of European art.
This ‘Virgin Mary nursing Christ Child’ by Hans Memling 1430-94 is a beautiful
When I was breastfeeding back in 2001, I sketched my son whilst feeding and made this print.
It strikes me how in all the paintings the lactating women are being observed, we are never invited to experience the mother’s perspective…
On the 14th November’18 we celebrated the Launch of our Website & Instagram ; Platforms to kick-start a dialogue around breasts, body positivity and the power of Curiosity.
My Curiosity gave me a perspective on my breast cancer and my one breasted body ; By exploring the topic in a broad manner, I was able to take a distance from the illness and the loss and connect with others throughout history & time, art, culture, science and medicine. With the BBookproject we hope to inspire others to be Curious too…
The launch was a fabulous gathering of supporters and collaborators, celebrating and discussing the breast under a curiously floating exhibition above a very long dining table. (for more photo’s follow our Instagram posts)
Some quotes from our guests;
“Thank you so much for a truly inspirational evening. It was amazing to see so many different people with a connection to you / breast cancer, all with such a positive outlook on life. It was a totally unique evening…” Breast Cancer Haven
“I think what struck me the most was the feeling that the very premise of the project i.e. the breast, engenders an intimacy that allows an immediacy for free, heartfelt and open conversation… I was struck by a notion: of how difficult our relationship can often be with our bodies….and yet we place so much of our identity on its appearance…” Robbie Harris (Architect, Artist, Writer)
“Thank you for a splendid evening…glorious boob dessert! Great exhibition and presentation and very much enjoyed talking to some very lovely people.” Angel Zatorski (Artist)
“Thank you so much for a fabulous evening. I am so proud to be involved with your amazing project which I am sure is going to evolve further to fulfill its aim in raising awareness about the breast in such an artistic way.” Vian Salih (Breast Physician)
The Swedish physician and botanist Carolus Linnaeus ( 1707-78) made the breast the formost identifying feature of the class of animals previously called “Quadrupeds”, when he renamed them as “MAMMALIA” in 1752. (from the Latin mammae, milk-secreting organs)
If it hadn’t been for the eighteenth-century European (male) fixation on female breasts ( wet nursing / breast feeding ) we might not have been called “Mammals” today…
Saint Agatha of Sicily was a 3rd century Virgin-Martyr, allegedly tortured for being a Christian and for refusing marriage proposals from Roman prefect Quintianus.
One of the tortures was cutting off her breasts.
She is the patron saint of breast cancer patients and wet nurses.
Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran ( 1598-1664) was one of the many painters who depicted Agatha with her breasts on a plate.
I juxtaposed his painting with this amazing modern interpretation ( “her earthly life” byNoah Massey 2008) where Agatha is sewing her breasts back on !!!
I love “BREASTS”, a children’s book on breasts by Genichiro Yagyu ( 1999)
On this page the male breast is explained.
I note that about 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year! The disease is possbibly more aggresive than female breast cancer,
although this may be due to later diagnosis.
I found this early 20th Century silver votive plate in an old antique shop in Athens. The tradition of votive offerings goes back to ancient times, when worshippers would leave depictions of the human body as votive offerings in a temple or sanctuary, hoping for a cure or as thanks for one.
I try to picture the woman who offered this hand made plate to her favourite saint. The breasts slightly differ in size and shape, making the depiction more real and intimate than factory produced votives – an interesting analogy for the ‘perfect’ body image currently conveyed through the media opposed to the naturally occurring diversity of body shapes and appearances.
Now it’s my turn to express my gratitude, not to a deity but to the NHS, the Breast Cancer Haven and all my friends, for the life affirming support and treatment received after being diagnosed with breast cancer (2009).
And through sharing this object, I extend the votive offering tradition into the secular realm and hope to connect all women in their quests for acceptance & healing.
My breasts reside in a box, cast in bronze, memory of what was…
July 2009, a few days before my single mastectomy (no reconstruction) I panicked at the idea of losing my boobs, and convinced my father in law ( an artist) to make a plaster cast, which he later used to make a bronze bust. After years in the bottom of my clothes cupboard, my friend Thomas organised an old wooden gramophone box for the bust to be mounted in…my personal portable museum…
But before long
Weighed in warm hands
Lost in passion
For the first time
To the greedy demands
Of newborn lips
Invaded and disposed off
With a lobsided
Anna Versteeg London 2010
This drawing by Louise Bourgeois reminds me of the drain curled up under the skin of my chest after the mastectomy…drip, drip, drip…the notebook next to my bed was full of these spiral diagrams, trying to visualise and understand what was happening inside…