AN EXHIBITION of nudes, celebrating the life of one woman in particular, and challenging the lack of representations of the ‘naked older female body’ in the art world, opens at Kingshill House in Dursley this week.

The collection of artworks has been created by Dursley artist Krystyna Dembny, and features images of her good friend Sally Rose, from Wotton under Edge, who died from breast cancer last year.

“The idea for the project was inspired by a fridge magnet I was given as a present,” said Krystyna.

The magnet was printed with the question: ‘Do women have to be naked in order to get into the Met Museum?’

“It appears, only four per cent of art works in the Met Museum (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) are by women, but 76 per cent of nudes on display are female,” said Krystyna.

“This made me wonder how much of this naked female flesh was menopausal.

“It seems, take away youth and fecundity, and the maiden/mother becomes a crone, and her body is banished to the realm of invisibility in art, film and advertising.”

Sally, as a post menopausal woman suffering from breast cancer, ‘wanted to show the world she was fully alive’, and asked Krystyna to paint her in the nude.

Krystyna says initially she was resistant to the idea, but eventually forced herself to face her own mental discomforts surrounding the subject matter.

“Sally was more than happy to become my exemplar of the naked post-menopausal ‘Invisible Woman Made Visible’,” said Krystyna.

The pair collaborated on the project until Sally’s death last year.

“The project moved past the representation of the ‘naked older female body’ as a confrontation,” said Krystyna.

“For me it brought home the power of the spirit and, whether young or old, we are far more than just physical beings to be objectified as pleasing cultural paradigms, or damned as abject when failing to do so.

“It has been a very special and enlightening journey of shared adventure and friendship.”

The exhibition is linked to this year’s Macmillan Coffee Morning, with the entry fee of £2 going to Macmillan Cancer Support. It opens on Friday and runs until Monday, September 28. Book a visit email: or phone 01453 549133.