Wednesday, March 09, 2005


An Art Show Celebrates Breast Cancer Survivors

My timing in ChristChurch could not have been better or more rewarding as I met with artist Lynne Lambert and viewed her exhibition in a tribute to breast cancer survivors that is as remarkable as it is unusual.


The solo show features works created entirely from bras donated by breast cancer survivors and supporters. The major work is a stunning walled installation of 668 survivors' bras. Lynne has also painstakingly hand-sewn hundreds of supporters' bras into sculptural forms that celebrate strength, courage and new beginnings.

Lynne celebrated her tenth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor in November 2004. It was this milestone that prompted her to plan LIVLIF. Lynne says "I wanted the show to be a life affirming celebration".

Cancer Society Centres throughout the country enthusiastically collected bras on Lynne's behalf. Breast Cancer Network (NZ) helped her reach the wider community, as did articles in numerous local newspapers and the New Zealand Woman's Weekly. There followed a spot on the TV evening news. Lynne also set up a website. The support snowballed as word spread wider and wider.

Between February and June 2004 Lynne traveled throughout the country to speak to breast cancer support groups. "I met many wonderful women," she recalled, "All with a very positive attitude and a desire to make the most of life. Those visits were a special part of the project."

In all, 1480 bras have been donated, many accompanied by letters from survivors who wanted to share their stories and offer words of love and encouragement.

Lynne has exhibited regularly in solo and group exhibitions since 1996. This will be her third solo exhibition at CoCA. Her work is also part of the permanent collection of the Christchurch Art Gallery. Lynne won a merit award in the 2002 NCC Recycled Art Awards and was a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards the same year.

Born in south London, England, Lynne emigrated to New Zealand in 1973. She graduated with honors from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1999. She currently teaches Practical Art and Art History courses at Risingholme Community Centre and Burnside High School under their Adult Education Programme.

Of the LIVLIF project, Lynne adds "It has taken me on a wonderful journey into the unknown and I have been privileged to participate, for a short time, in a sense of comradeship born of shared experience. I look forward to sharing that positive energy in the finished works."

I was also able to share with Lynne information and history of the breast cancer button chair and the Breast Health Project. I gave Lynne a box of blank note cards featuring the breast cancer button chair. Lynne said something to me that I am not sure I had considered or thought about before. She loved the button chair and said that a chair is such a strong symbol to a breast cancer survivor as so much time is spent sitting, waiting, thinking, praying, crying, worrying, visioning...etc. as you move though the stages of treatment. She confirmed the chair is a powerful symbol and a powerful part of the process.


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