"Goodbye Breasts!": Immersive exhibition to spark discussions on breast cancer
By: Tom Walters
Last updated: Monday, 23 October 2023
- Interactive exhibition comes to Brighton’s Dance Space to empower women to talk about breast health
- Part of a wider project by Sussex academic and two-time breast cancer survivor
- Initiative coincides with October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month
An exhibition, drawing on the real-life experiences of a University of Sussex academic, is visiting Brighton during Breast Cancer Awareness month to encourage conversations about breast health.
Two-time cancer survivor and Professor of Filmmaking, Joanna Callaghan, created "Goodbye Breasts!" to prompt discussions about breast health and the role of arts in health and wellbeing, developing an immersive art installation and a series of talks and workshops. It will be launched at Brighton’s The Dance Space on Tuesday 24 October.
At the heart of the exhibition, is "The Big Breast"; an inflatable breast which visitors can enter to explore breast anatomy as well as an immersive soundscape of stories, short films, and educational displays.
The aim is to encourage women and girls to feel that they can openly talk about breast health, and to tackle concerns around screening uptake. According to the charity Breast Cancer Now, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, and it is a leading cause of death in women under 50 in the UK. With 5-10% of breast cancer cases caused by inherited faulty genes, early detection remains crucial – and this is a key theme of the exhibition.
Joanna Callaghan, Professor of Filmmaking at the University of Sussex, said:
“In 2017, I faced breast cancer and discovered I carried a high-risk breast cancer gene, PALB2. Just as I was considering a preventative mastectomy, a second breast cancer diagnosis came in 2020.
“The UK government's 10-year Women's Health Strategy emphasises the importance of breast education, early screening for faulty gene carriers, and personalised care pathways. "Goodbye Breasts!" actively supports this by engaging individuals with the topic.
“The "Goodbye Breasts!" exhibition is intended to empower women and girls of all ages and backgrounds to openly discuss breast health, raise awareness about early detection through breast checking and screening and increase knowledge about faulty genes related to breast cancer. But I also think it’s about highlighting the role of arts in promoting health and well-being.”
Alongside the Big Breast, the exhibition also includes a roundtable discussion on "The Art of Listening," an artist talk with Prof Joanna Callaghan, and creative workshops encompassing creative writing and an intergenerational dance workshop. As part of a wider project, funded by Arts Council England, a powerful documentary film will then follow in 2024 telling Professor Callaghan’s personal story of hereditary breast cancer.
Supported by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support, the exhibition will tour destinations across the UK later this year, appearing at film and art festivals, art venues and medical conferences.
Mark Witcomb, Macmillan Engagement Lead - Surrey, Sussex and East Berkshire, said:
“It is so important to encourage people to feel more comfortable talking about and acknowledging the importance of breast health and breaking down some of the taboos that exist to help improve outcomes.
“This creative and ground-breaking project devised by Joanna who has first-hand experience of the issues surrounding this subject, will really help to open up the conversation about breast cancer and reach new audiences.
“We are delighted to be funding not only some of the material costs associated with hosting this exhibition but the practical aspects of ensuring diverse communities can attend the workshops and be guided through the exhibition ensuring that the benefits of this work reach as wide an audience as possible.”
The ‘Goodbye Breasts!’ exhibition will be taking place from Tuesday 24 – Friday 28 October at The Dance Space, Brighton. For more information visit the Goodbye Breasts! website for more details.