A female priest has spoken of how she had no hesitation at all before stripping off and posing topless for a charity wallpaper.
Reverend Caroline Wright, an associate priest at St Michael’s Church in Smethcote, Shropshire, was among 250 women who agreed to take part in the photoshoot to raise money for breast awareness charity Coppafeel.
The 65-year-old, who conducts weddings and funerals and plays the organ at the rural 12th century church, said the topless photo shoot by local artist Sam Powley was ‘great fun’.
Reverend Wright, who is a grandmother of 12 and has been ordained for four years, said she had no hesitation in taking part in the project – but she is not revealing where she is on the wallpaper.She said: ‘Body awareness in young women is so important. I didn’t even think about the fact I was a priest until I bumped into a parishioner at the photoshoot.
‘The thought of exposing myself in a perfectly secure environment didn’t bother me in the least. I looked around the room and saw all those women together, different ages, shapes and sizes and it was really powerful and great fun.
‘We all need to love our bodies. If we love them we don’t treat them badly. I do think the way the project was done was reverential in that sense – we are all made in God’s image.
‘Sam’s wallpaper makes you realise how unique and individual we all are.’
Reverend Wright signed up for the photoshoot after seeing the 38-year-old artist’s plea for female volunteers on Facebook.
Ms Powley spent eight months photographing hundreds of women’s breasts at Shrewsbury Coffeehouse and other venues in Hertfordshire, North Wales and Birmingham.
She then put the pictures together to form a sheet of wallpaper, which was unveiled at her fine art degree show at Birmingham City University this week.
The paper has now gone on sale for £100 a roll, with a quarter of the profits going to the charity Coppafeel, which sends teams out to festivals to teach young people how to examine their breasts.
She said: ‘I’m really pleased with the result and I’m chuffed that people are reacting to it in such a lovely positive way.
‘I wanted to celebrate the female form. The most important part of the project is not the boobs on the wall, it’s the relationship between me and the subjects.
‘So many people found it cathartic and liberating, a really important, emotive thing to be part of.
‘I started off thinking many women didn’t really like their boobs but I’ve been really interested to find just how many people love them.’
Anni Holden, director of communications for the Hereford Diocese, said it was important as many people as possible got involved in supporting the cause.
She said: ‘It is equally as important to our female priests as for other ladies.
‘We would like to see any of our priests getting involved in anything supporting breast cancer charities.’
Other women who took part in the project included transgender Tessa Curtis, 54, from Worcester, who said her breasts were ‘in progress’.
She said: ‘I am taking medication and they are growing but I was a bit concerned I might not qualify.
‘I was worried the presence of a transgender person might cause offence but I wanted to support it. I went on my own and was made to feel very welcome as part of the sisterhood. It was very interesting and enjoyable.’
Helen Nicell, 51, from Watford, said her family had been ‘plagued’ by cancer so she wanted to support the project.
She found a lump in her own breast on the day her mum died of breast cancer and has also lost her husband and dad to the disease.
She had a mastectomy in 2010, but a further growth was detected in her spine last year.
She said: ‘Going to a topless photoshoot with just one boob was quite out there.
‘Breast cancer is something we are all very concerned about in our family. I discovered my own when I found my nipple had completely changed shape.
‘Self-checking is so important. I’ve had more treatment and am still living a normal life. The doctors hope I will have many years left.’
Former Conservative Shropshire councillor Karen Burgoyne, 49, said she was pleased she took part.
She added: ‘You feel a glow of confidence afterwards. Everybody went in nervous but came out smiling. Cancer touches so many lives, I wanted to do my bit.’
Ms Powley’s daughter Daisy Pooley-Tolkien, 20, from Cambridge also took part in the topless shoot.
She said: ‘Boobs are something that can be objectified or appreciated and my mum has really shown the appreciation side.
‘I found it very hard to accept that I had inverted nipples when I was a teenager. This was really my way of saying, you know what, I really don’t care any more. It isn’t just me – I’m not a complete freak.’
Ms Powley now hopes the paper might be showcased by a major high street store and would also like to see it papering the walls of bathrooms across the country.
She has already raised more than £2,000 for Coppafeel and will be taking orders for the wallpaper via her website boobwallpaper.com from the end of the week.