Writer, artist, and breast cancer survivor, Claire Collison’s current work addresses women, health and identity. Since deciding not to have reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy in 2014, she has been asking:
‘Why are the thousands of women like me so hidden? What anxieties do we share as a society, where disguise is regarded as important as treatment? And how can women make informed treatment choices when there is so little representation of us within mainstream culture?’
Having used her body in her art practice for 30 years, Claire is in a rare position to explore these themes.
Photo credit: Now You See Me – a collaboration between Claire Collison and Liz Orton
Truth is Beauty
During Claire’s residency in Southend, she curated and hosted a free life drawing event, Truth is Beauty, in the TOMA Project Space within The Royals Shopping Centre.
This fully-booked event invited all women, regardless of artistic experience, to join a life-drawing session during which Claire modelled and performed a monologue linking her own experiences to life modelling and story-telling.
The following day, the artworks created during the session were exhibited at Metal Art School, alongside a reading from Claire which the public were welcomed to attend. This exhibition further raised the visibility of unreconstructed women, with the drawings being documented and kept within Claire’s archive.
Attendees to Truth is Beauty included volunteers from Macmillan, staff from Southend University Hospital, local artists and people whose lives have been touched by breast cancer, creating a safe space for art and discussion with members from across the community.