Abreast of the times

2011, By JMW

The overnight metamorphosis of the Daily Herald, Labour's staid paper warhorse into the effervescent sex-obsessed Sun newspaper in 1964 was a cultural turning point for Britain. This was because in 1970, owner Rupert Murdoch's henchmen, the executive editorial team on the Sun under editor Larry Lamb, unleashed upon the newspaper public a veritable bombardment of bare breasts. Since there is no underestimating the depravity of the Mansfield mechanic, of the Bolton brickie or the clerk on the Clapton bendy bus, this bare-breasted exposure proved to be such a circulation builder that the rest of the red-top tabloids had to follow suit; indeed even in the spring of 2011, the German artist Gustav Metzger (b 1926) was happily plastering a wall at the Royal Academy's Burlington House galleries with page after page of nipples ripped out of tabloid newspapers for the Modern British Sculpture exhibition. These Page Three girls - a natty euphemism for nearly naked pneumatic tarts - thus have become part of the art establishment; forsooth the odd one or two of these lasses sporting giant mammary glands have gone on to nippy fame and brief fortune.  And, of course, the so-called "quality" newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Times, who claim to be quite prudish in this respect are not averse to publishing photographs of naked classical female statues in the name of high art, or for that matter images of bare-breasted native African women performing a tribal ritual in the name of cultural history. As these are black breasts, they clearly do not offend the sensibilities of "quality" Caucasian readers. Since then, the ubiquity of the internet has made tits - and much more - instantly available, even to lads of ten owning a mobile smartphone. So an uplifting aspect of late 20th century and early 21st century life has been dumbed down. Large breasts have been a feature of art since the earliest times when there was no such thing as "art" only representations of life, such as the Willendorf woman found in Austria in 1908 and dating back to between 25,000 and 30,000 years BC. The first known sculpture we have, Willendorf woman has giant breasts and is clearly a pre-historic sex votive. Since then, similar representations have been made by skilled workers in Pompeii, Italy, the Ajanta caves in India, and then for the secret pleasure of European dukes and cardinals in the Middle Ages with the works hidden away in private chambers. In the 20th century, Eric Gill and Jacob Epstein exploited this rich seam to scandalise the British nation. To restore a semblance of cultural propriety in this age of free expression, JMW decided to fashion his own iconic artwork: Abreast of the times. In this mistresspiece, three pairs of bare breasts increasing in size get appropriate names relating to their attributes - Miss Ann Thrope, Miss Bee Gotten and Miss de Meanour. The first teenage pair of breasts (or angelic breasts) have been fashioned from plastic funnels (Tesco) while the average size undergraduate pair began life as rubber hand-grip plungers and the largest, the mature matronly pair, started off as large sink plungers (both the latter sets from Wilkinson). Additionally, following the advice of a well-endowed lady, appropriately-sized brassieres (Tesco) were hung from hooks next to the bare breasts on 122 x 64 cm MDF board (B&Q) painted in household paint (Wilko). The sizes of these colourful boob wraps are 32DD, 34F and 38DD for those who have mastered this esoteric subject. Incidentally, the artist ordered these bras over the internet rather than shamefacedly tour the lingerie departments of chain stores and be seen by women shoppers as some sort of pervert...  The work now hangs proudly in the artist's mistress bedroom.