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Keeping Abreast Exhibition comes to GRH


Fifty portraits of women who have had breast cancer surgery and reconstruction will be exhibited at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Keeping Abreast Portrait Exhibition, Femininity Comes From Within, will be held in the Fosters Gallery Room from Tuesday 27th to Thursday 29th October 2015, as part of a national tour funded by The National Lottery as part of the Big Awards For All scheme.


Femininity Comes From Within brings together portraits of women aged between 30 and 70, some of whom have been photographed before reconstructive breast surgery and some after. The participants have either had breast cancer or preventative mastectomies.


This has been a two-year project for Norfolk-based professional photographer, Julia Holland, who is a committed supporter of the breast reconstruction charity Keeping Abreast. Having worked with the charity for many years, Julia was inspired by the women she met to create classical-style photographic portraits of them. “All the women were brave enough to come and take part because they wanted to make a difference to others facing breast cancer,” explained Julia.


Alongside each portrait are the women’s own words about their experiences and how they feel now, demonstrating the femininity, strength and courage in adversity in each individual case. The stories are a powerful reflection on the women’s journeys through cancer and reconstruction and convey the heartfelt gratitude they feel towards Keeping Abreast for the support they’ve received.

One such example is Gloria Girling from Norwich, who wrote: “At the age of 62, I am out and proud and very loud! Empowered by my new-found femininity, I’m proud to have been asked to take part in this exhibition of sensitive photography; I hope this shines through to encourage other women to have faith and belief in themselves.”


Chair of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Clair Chilvers said: “We were very pleased to be approached with a view to hosting this exhibition and particularly delighted to be showing it during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Femininity Comes From Within is undoubtedly an exhibition with a powerful and inspiring message and we hope that many people locally will come to see it.”


Chris Bailey, national fundraising and development manager for Keeping Abreast, said: “Some women are very happy to live with no breast after their cancer has been removed, but many lose their sense of identity and feel isolated after their mastectomy. Empowering women to make their own informed choice gives them some control in what often seems a powerless situation. Keeping Abreast’s support during the decision-making process gives those considering reconstructive breast surgery the opportunity to meet women who have already been through breast reconstruction, as well as the chance to see the results of such surgery in the flesh and to ask questions. We believe it is vital that more women are offered this kind of support and we are committed to developing more Keeping Abreast groups wherever we can.”


After being displayed at the hospital, the Keeping Abreast Portrait Exhibition will continue on its national tour including the Royal Liverpool Hospital on the 4th and 5th November; and the Royal Derby Hospital from 24th to 26th November, with more places in the pipeline.


Further information on Keeping Abreast is available at: and on Julia Holland Photography at: