Body art helps to beat cancer in Sunderland

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VOLUNTEERS have bared all for art in a bid to raise cash for charity.

Artist Karen Cessford enlisted five former cancer patients and painted pictures on their skin to highlight the body beautiful.

The 39-year-old said she wanted to raise awareness of the body’s beauty, whether the person has scars from surgery or mental scars.

“All five people really enjoyed being painted,” she said.

“They thought it was therapeutic, and were more than happy to help.”

Karen started her artistry business Kismit Street Body Art in 2011 but stopped working because her mother, Dorothy Cessford, 79, of Hylton Castle, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and later died of the disease.

“I wanted to raise money for cancer and organised an event,” she said.

“But I had to cancel because everything got on top of me.

“I then started raising money for Cancer Research UK by returning to body painting.”

Karen, who works out of her Seaburn home, has set up a Just Giving page where people can go to look at photographs of the body paintings, and donate to Cancer Research UK.

She said: “I want to raise awareness of the body beautiful, whether you have scars or removals, or mental scars from having cancer.

“People can look at the photos and donate. I’m raising awareness and hopefully will hit my £1,000 target.”

Five cancer survivors volunteered to be painted and photographed by Karen.

Mark Fox, 34, survived liver cancer twice. Karen painted an image of Tia Dalma on him.

Pat Surtees, 59, had breast cancer, and friend Maureen Watson, 59, who had cervical cancer, were painted with floral pictures.

Joanna Heatlie, 33, suffered from ovarian cancer, was painted wearing a top and shorts.

She had a radical hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy to clear her of the disease, and has been on hormone replacement treatment for seven years since.

Dan Burnelli, 32, of Silksworth also took part.

He survived leukaemia as a child after receiving a bone marrow transplant from his brother. He said: “I was four when I was diagnosed and was treated when I was five.

“I got involved because school friends who know Karen knew that I had had cancer and suggested I do it.

“It was fun and relaxing, and I think it is a really clever idea what she is doing.

“It’s something totally different and I think it will invoke people’s interest.”

Karen, who did the paintings in the Blue Bell pub, Fulwell, painted a black T-shirt with The Joker on it.

“I don’t think you can even tell it is not a T-shirt,” he said.

“I walked out into the car park afterwards and I don’t think anyone knew.”

To donate to Karen’s cause, visit

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull