Make-up art to raise cancer awareness

Artist Wendy Helliwell, left, and skin-care consultant Marjory Kenny display the unique piece of art. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Artist Wendy Helliwell, left, and skin-care consultant Marjory Kenny display the unique piece of art. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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WHEN Edinburgh artist Wendy Helliwell came up with an idea for a special piece of artwork created from cosmetics, the hope was to raise awareness of the breast cancer that had claimed her mum Diane’s life.

As she collected unwanted make-up from women across the country for her creation, her last thought was that her CHECK YOU campaign would have its greatest impact right at home, on one of her mother’s closest friends.

For in a harrowing twist of fate, just as mum of two Wendy – who underwent a double mastectomy after discovering she carries the faulty BRCA 1 cancer gene like Angelina Jolie – set about collecting hundreds of donated cosmetics, her mum’s friend Vicky Page discovered she, too, was facing her own breast cancer battle.

It made creating the stunning 8ft by 3.5ft Shades of Life artwork, which will be unveiled tonight at the Sheraton Hotel, a particularly poignant and emotional challenge.

Mum of three Vicky, 68, from Corstorphine, will unveil the brilliantly coloured creation – made from lipstick, mascara, eye shadows, even make-up packaging. Later it will be auctioned off to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

She said: “Wendy’s mum Diane was a close friend and I was devastated when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course you never think it will happen to you.”

Wendy had hit on the idea with Marjory Kenny, an Arborne skin care consultant, whose clients had handed over piles of old cosmetics they no longer needed.

Artist Wendy’s mother died aged 56, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. Doctors found she had terminal secondary bone cancer and scans showed a shadow on her ovaries.

Wendy, 42, from Cammo, said creating the artwork had turned into an emotional experience as it became clear how many people were touched by the disease.

“What happened took our breath away. More than 60 businesses throughout Edinburgh offered to be collection points, to advertise the campaign or to store the products. We can’t thank them enough.”

And Marjory, from Bellevue, added: “Every inch of this fabulous piece of art represents a lipstick or an eyeshadow donated by someone who got our touch, look, check message. We have had so many supporters and know of several who have discovered they were suffering from breast cancer during our campaign.”

Bids for Wendy’s artwork close at the launch night of the Edinburgh Art Fair at the Corn Exchange on November 13.

For more on how to bid for the artwork, go to