‘Boob Wallpaper’ volunteers invited to Shrewsbury exhibition launch

Almost 300 volunteers who were photographed topless for a Shropshire artist’s breast cancer charity wallpaper are being invited to a private viewing in Shrewsbury to thank them for their support.

Artist Sam Pooley has sold portions of the wallpaper as far as Hong Kong and the United States since the unveiling of the work at her fine art degree show at Birmingham City University last June.

The 38-year-old is showing the wallpaper for the first time since then at the private viewing on Thursday October 10 at Shrewsbury Coffee House, in Castle Gates, starting at 7pm.

Each of the volunteers, who queued for up to two hours to be photographed during a shoot at the Coffeehouse last March, will receive a piece of the wallpaper signed by the artist.

The wallpaper, which subtly displays the tiny photographic images beneath the veil of a traditional damask wallpaper pattern, will remain on exhibition at the venue until mid November. It has so far raised thousands of pounds for breast cancer research and awareness charities.

Miss Pooley, of Castlefields, Shrewsbury, said volunteers were welcome to bring along their partners and added that the private view would also be an opportunity for the women to take part in the making of a book about the project. A photographer will attend on the night to capture images from the event and compile an archive.

Women of all ages and from all walks of life took part in the original shoot, ranging from business women and teachers to a town councillor and even a 65-year-old female priest.

Reverend Caroline Wright, of St Michael’s Church in Smethcote, near Shrewsbury, won widespread support, including the backing of the Hereford Diocese, after volunteering to support breast cancer awareness. Many women who had suffered the devastating effects of breast cancer also took part.

“The private viewing on October 10 will give me a chance to thank all these brave and wonderful women properly,” said Miss Pooley.

“I often walk down the street and someone will smile at me and I’ll wonder whether they’re somewhere on the wallpaper. It’s been an incredible journey and the story of the wallpaper is still far from over.

“Signed numbered pieces of the wallpaper have been bought as far away as Hong Kong and the US and four rolls are about to go to New York City.”

The wallpaper is digitally printed, comes in 12 different colours and has gone on sale at £100 per roll. Five hundred limited edition signed and framed pieces are available to order. Proceeds from the sale and the forthcoming private viewing are going to Coppafeel, the UK charity that educates men and women about how to check for breast cancer.

Miss Pooley originally set out almost a year ago to photograph 1,000 women for the work. A total of 840 volunteers, from all over the UK, signed up, but a traumatic miscarriage put the artist in hospital before she could embark on a nationwide photographic tour.

  The initial inspiration for her project was the controversy that raged over the paparazzi shots of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless on holiday and a renewed campaign to ban Page 3 models from The Sun newspaper. Miss Pooley wanted to capture images of ordinary women.

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Pete White Pete White

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