WOMEN from across Merseyside are taking part in an unusual arts project to raise awareness of breast cancer.
A Liverpool-based arts group, the Gaia Collective, has embarked on an ambitious work charting the development of women's attitudes to their bodies through the years.
The artists' technique involves taking plaster casts of women's torsos and forming them into eye-catching sculptures.
For a project called Pero36, they plan to produce 36 breast casts to raise awareness of breast cancer and generate funds for the Linda McCartney Centre, a cancer treat-ment centre at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, where the casts will initially go on display.
Already more than 100 women have applied to take part.
Many have experienced breast cancer themselves or in their family, others see it as an opportunity to promote women's health and counteract media-driven images of the perfect woman.
Among them is grandmother Clair Smith, 40, from Knotty Ash, Liverpool.
She said: "Two years ago I found a lump in my breast and the doctor sent me to the Linda McCartney Centre.
"I was lucky because the lump was benign but for a long time I lived under the shadow of breast cancer.
"It was a traumatic time, but I always knew I was receiving the best of care. They are wonderful people and they were with me every step of the way."
Clair volunteered for the project with daughter Nikki, 23, who added: "I wanted to give something back to the centre, to try and repay them for all they did for my mum.
"The people who volunteered are all here for different reasons. We are all different ages and different body shapes, but the point is that no matter who you are you can be affected by breast cancer."
Antoinette Yearwood, 52, of Wavertree, Liverpool, said: "I hope people will come to this exhibition. No-one here is a super model but we're just as beautiful in our own way.
"Many women find a lump and are too scared to have it checked out. If the exhibition encourages just one person to overcome their fears and see a doctor it will be worth it.
"I hope people will recognise it takes a lot of guts to do what we are doing and they are inspired by it."
Breast cancer suf ferer Maria Brook, 42, from Prescot, Merseyside, added: "I strongly believe that we need to open our attitudes to our bodies and in particular our attitudes to breast cancer.
"I had surgery nearly two years ago and since then I have shared my experience with many women in order to calm their fears.
"If my participation in this project helps one other person to come to terms with their ill-ness then it will all be worthwhile."
Julie Bond, fund-raising manager for the Linda McCartney Centre, said: "This is an original piece of work which will will open people's attitudes and raise awareness of breast cancer."."