The Breast Cancer Art Project’s mission is to provide a platform for those affected by breast cancer to express their experiences of cancer through art.
The emotional and physical experiences of cancer can be overwhelming and difficult to process and to express, but art has a special way of assisting that expression. The act of creating is in itself therapeutic, and the act of sharing our creations provides a place to be heard and better understood.
The online gallery of the Breast Cancer Art Project is created by the breast cancer community for the breast cancer community, yet at the same time helping others, such as family, friends and colleagues, as well as medical professionals and the wider public, to better understand what we are going through.
By art, we mean art in all its forms. Paintings, sketches, photography, poetry, stories, non-fiction, film, music… we welcome your submissions. You do not need to see yourself as an artist to contribute, and even if you haven’t been creative since childhood (as surely we were all creative then), we encourage you to give it a go. It is all about the process, not about producing professional level artwork!
Download our poster: Breast Cancer Art Project A4 Poster
I launched the Breast Cancer Art Project in October 2017, just days after my reconstructive surgery. At the time I had just participated in a cancer art project for Cardiff University, for which I painted a piece called ‘Healing with Gold’. It was the first time I had ever truly expressed myself through art, and I found the process a very powerful way of expressing some of the feelings I had inside of me, which at the time I was finding hard to process. It helped on my way to healing psychologically.
I wondered if others going through breast cancer would also benefit from a platform to share their experiences of breast cancer through art. Not everyone feels like writing a blog, yet they still need a way to express themselves. To have a place to submit your work where it can be shared and viewed by others may be just the motivation you need to harness your creative side. I also hope that experiencing other people’s art can help in some way.
The Breast Cancer Art Project is not an organisation or a charity. As yet, it has no funding or external support, and is managed by the good will of volunteers. So please do be patient as we manage this site and the submissions, and work out the best way of doing this.
I really hope you enjoy both viewing the submissions as they come in, and contributing art yourself if you would like. I’m so excited to see the creativity flourish!
Wishing you love and good health,
Adriana (Project Founder)
Project Founder – Adriana Ford
Adriana lives in London and grew up in the West Country. She was diagnosed with invasive ductile breast cancer, stage 3c, in July 2016 at the age of 34, and spent the next 15 months having treatment and surgeries. To mark one year from diagnosis, she hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with her sister and friends – 100 miles, 10,000m total ascent and descent, around the Alps in seven days, raising over £2k for cancer charities. She is currently clear of cancer and exploring ways to deal with the emotional aftermath.
When Adriana isn’t dealing with breast cancer, she’s a researcher in environmental social sciences. Her passion is nature, wildlife and travelling, but she also loves the gym and samba, which helps with both her physical and psychological strength. She also adores her cat.
As well as her incredible family and friends, she has been supported by some fantastic organisations and groups since diagnosis, including Younger Breast Cancer Network, Willow Foundation, Sail4Cancer, Dimbleby Cancer Care, the Breast Cancer Haven, the Primrose Centre and OpMeta. She was treated at the Princess Royal University Hospital, Guys Hospital, and RUH Bath, and will forever be grateful to the amazing staff in the NHS, particularly her surgeon in Bath, who have saved her life.
International Arts Coordinator – Sue Olivera
Sue Olivera is an artist and breast cancer survivor living in Puerto Rico. Sue first became involved with the Breast Cancer Art Project when it was only two months old, when she submitted her painting Sobrevivi – Adriana had seen the painting on Instagram and knew she had to share it. This was soon followed by several more artworks, and a friendship between Adriana and Sue developed. Sue then initiated a fantastic idea – a physical exhibition in her university in Puerto Rico. With all the enthusiasm, commitment, time and effort she has given to the Breast Cancer Art Project, as well as her artistic talent and advocacy for breast cancer awareness, it was only natural that Sue would become an official part of it, as our International Arts Coordinator. You can see Sue’s CV here and read a little message from her below:
“My name is Susan Marie Olivera Alonso, born and raised in the city of Mayagϋez, Puerto Rico, where I also obtained my majors in Biology and Industrial Microbiology. I am a breast cancer survivor, specifically invasive ductal carcinoma; but above all things I am a woman.
My story is long, perhaps complicated, probably with more drama than I remember or want to remember; but for some reason I often hear “you have gone through so much” …
It’s been 11 years, 8 months and 3 weeks since my diagnosis, I was 32 years old. I remember as if it was yesterday when I received the diagnosis. It was like throwing a bucket of cold water over my head, I looked at my 5-year-old daughter (at that time) and thought, “Will I see her grow?” … 8 rounds of dense dose chemotherapy, 35 radiations, 11 rounds of Herceptin and 26 surgeries later; I’m here to tell my story.
I remember one of my doctors once told me, “once you are cancer patient, you will be for a lifetime”, he was right because the idea of cancer is like a shadow that follows you everywhere.
As a biologist, my need to understand the nature of “my shadow”, led me to take a course on the molecular and cellular biology of cancer. This formidable enemy, consequence of an error that interrupts homeostasis, is not a disease; It is a set of diseases. But for the purposes of everyday life, cancer is a feared disease, which forever changes the life of those who suffer it, their families and loved ones. But it is important to remember that it is no longer a death sentence, rather, a declaration of war where everything goes on both fronts; because they both want life.
Life, existence or as you prefer to call it, is no longer taken for granted. Given the uncertainty of its duration, everything takes on another color; Every moment is appreciated much more and the priorities change. In my case, I stopped looking to the future and focused on today. This led me to discover things about me that I had no idea and I liked what I found. I found Art!
I think that I am extremely fortunate to see the positive side of all this, that I can look in the mirror and see a strong, courageous woman, sure of herself. A woman who, even though her body has been mutilated, feels sensual. This I did not achieve overnight, it was hard, but art gave me the tools to express my process in a unique way, a way words cannot express. I found a profound passion in art that drove me to pursue a BA in Fine Arts in the University of PR at Mayaguez.“
UK Arts Coordinator – Amabel Mortimer
Amabel Mortimer has been involved in the Breast Cancer Art Project from the beginning. Connecting with Adriana through the Younger Breast Cancer Network, her excitement, belief in the project and practical input led to her being invited to be an official part of this initiative.
Amabel has extensive experience in the field of arts and health. She initially trained at Bath School of Art & Design, specialising in painting, printmaking and design ceramics. She then went on to gain a Masters of Arts in Art, Health and Wellbeing at Birmingham City University. Stemming from this she adopted a crafting and experimental approach to much of her work and has continued to explore this through various media. However, doing sketch paintings of vintage items was her first love.
After many years working as a freelance tutor and arts facilitator in her spare time, she went on to work as lead artist on arts in hospice and community projects within her role as creative arts coordinator. She has exceptional experience and understanding of participatory arts, and is committed to socially inclusive practice and collaborative working.
Amabel has also undertaken research into arts interventions, presented at the European Association for Palliative Care in Copenhagen, been shortlisted for the Arts in Health Prize for Arts in Health, received an NHS award for innovation in practice and exhibited at both the Mall Galleries and the Wellcome Trust. Needless to say, the Breast Cancer Art Project is very lucky to have her!