Pecha Kucha

On reconstructed women: a very short talk.

On International Women’s Day I went to Southend to give a half pech-kucha – that’s three minutes of chat. What a warm reception. Definitely worth the trip, I’d say…

Metal Southend pecha kucha

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Intimate Tour of Breasts, Birmingham (redux)

On Saturday 7th April, a group of women who had never previously met gathered outside St Agatha’s church in Sparkhill to participate in a three hour adventure, exploring how the commodification and mythologising of breasts within our society – from shops to art galleries, from religion to bras – impacts on how we relate to our own breasts. The walk, commissioned by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, as part of their ‘Coming Out’ exhibition, was an absolute joy. I learnt loads! There have been requests to make this an annual event. Watch this space.

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Paying my dues

me and Rosy Martin


1992 ‘I never studied photography,’ I tell Rosy; ‘I just made it up as I went along.’ 

‘What ingenue crap,’ Rosy says. She is lying on a kitchen floor in Exeter, blowing cigarette smoke out of a cat flap. We are houseguests of the Visual Arts Officer, who doesn’t smoke. Rosy smokes a lot. Rosy is quite intimidating, but we get on, so long I don’t come out with ingenue crap. 

2017 Rosy and I arrange to meet at a Griselda Pollock lecture, possibly the most Feminist Artist date imaginable. She knows everyone. Afterwards, we eat at a Lebanese place in Camberwell where I lose a scarf the size of a bedsheet. We talk about crediting, collaborating, ground rules, hindsight. I realise I have not been great at crediting. Not much of what I have done has really been all my own work, and this seems important to realise. I want to acknowledge all the people who help. I need people. I can’t manage alone. These are not signs of weakness. Beginning on new collaborations, we discuss the detail of how we shall work; we establish ground rules, agree on how to credit and who owns what. Thanks, Rosy.

(From my catalogue notes, ‘Watch This Space’ exhibition, Goldsmith’s College, Feb/March 2018)


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Birmingham Intimate Tour of Breasts

Today at 1pm  I shall be reprising the Birmingham Intimate Tour of Breasts walk,  (I understand it’s known by staff at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as The “Infamous Tour….” ) with a few changes and additions – not least because it will include the fantastic exhibition Coming Out, who commissioned this walk. Sarah Lucas’ fried egg self portrait, Gillian Wearing’s tee shirts, and Margaret Harrison’s early painting- to mention just three. Also, an update on the availability of post mastectomy lingerie in the city. A good news story! More soon…



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Truth Is Beauty

On March 3rd 2018 I gave the second performance of my single-breasted monologue, Truth is Beauty, at the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmith’s College.
Here are drawings made by artists and non-artists alike – women who came to hear my story, and who hopefully left understanding a little more about why unreconstructed women like me are so invisible in our society.

Credits: Kim McMahon, Ginni Collison, Mary Morris, Charlotte Morrison, Lydia Julien, Alice Williams, Melody Thomson, Margaret Jennings, Lucie Russell, Angela Hodgson-Teall, Bettina Weichert, Giulia Corpino, Phyllis Lane. (Please be in touch if I have not credited you!)


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So I’m Ms January: Why I shall be life-modelling at the Feminist Library, and how come single breasted women are invisible, even to each other.

via Stories of Women ~ with Claire

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The Intimate Tour of Breasts – next stop, Birmingham! (and a few poetry links)




September, and a new development for the Intimate Tour of Breasts: I have been invited to create a Birmingham version of my walking tour as part of the exquisite Birmingham Still Walking festival, and also pre-empting the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s forthcoming exhibition, Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender, and Identity, which opens in December. My walk takes place on Saturday 16th September, 12.45pm (with a second outing next Spring, dates tbc), I’ve discovered some really exciting Birmingham legends and landmarks. Here’s the blurb:

Artist, writer and breast cancer survivor, Claire Collison is your tour guide on this three-hour walk exploring multicultural mythologies surrounding breasts, and looking at their commodification throughout history to the present day – from religious martyrs to political activists, fine art to Page 3, nipple slip to slippery nipple. Engaging in conversations and activities en route, you will be unraveling the implications of all this on how women feel about their own breasts. This Birmingham Intimate Tour of Breasts is second in a series which began 2016 as part of the Walking Women festival in London.

An Intimate Tour of Breasts is supported by Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and pre-empts the exhibition Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender and Identity opening on Saturday 2nd December. This major exhibition will feature over 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists who explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art.

Booking and further info can be found here –

In other news, I apologise for being so completely rubbish at the regular upkeep of a blog (how do people do it?) so I am belatedly sharing this, a podcast of me reading my poem, The Ladies’ Pond, which was awarded second prize in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2017. In an interview explaining how I came to write it, I said:

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I became acutely aware of the invisibility of other women who had chosen not to have reconstructive surgery. This invisibility not only signalled the pressure I was under to conform, it also meant I had no tangible evidence of women survivors. The Ladies’ Pond is both an institution and a secret – a natural oasis, hidden away on Hampstead Heath in London, where women swim year round. The chance encounter with an old woman that I describe in the poem really happened, thirty years ago, but it was only on my birthday, days before my own surgery, that I remembered her. I sometimes wonder now if she was a ghost from my future, come to reassure me all would be well.”–/2017-hippocrates-prize-for/readings-by-2017-hippocrate/2017-open-award-winner.html

And, while I’m at it, here are a few links to where poetry of mine can be found online…

Bare Fiction

(Keeping Borzoi was Highly Commended in the Bare Fiction Prize for Poetry 2016, as chosen by Helen Mort.)

The Compass Magazine

The Flambard Prize 2016


That’s plenty for now. If you’re in Birmingham, maybe see you on the 16th!

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