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A crowd of nude people assembled on Bondi Beach face the ocean as the sun rises
Photograph: Skin Check Champions/Drew Lambert

Thousands of volunteers stripped off on Bondi Beach for a nude art project

Acclaimed photographer Spencer Tunick had these beach bums bared at dawn for a purpose

Alannah Maher
Written by
Alannah Maher
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Before the sun peeked over the horizon on Saturday morning, thousands of Sydneysiders descended on the sands of the famous Bondi Beach. For these early risers, a pre-dawn wake up call was worth it for the rare opportunity to serve as a muse for a world acclaimed artist, American photographer Spencer Tunick. This wasn’t any ordinary photo shoot – all 2,500 volunteers were completely stark naked. Between intermittent rain and wind, that salty air would have felt all the more brisk on those bare beach bums.

Saturday, November 26, 2022 will go down in history as the first time that Bondi Beach has been officially sanctioned as a ‘nude beach’ (well, until 10am). For many of the participants however, the artistic pursuit and “once in a lifetime” interesting story to share were not their only motivations for getting their kit off. Organised by charity organisation Skin Check Champions, this art action was designed to raise awareness on the importance of early detection for skin cancer. 

Three photographers on ladder look over a crowd of nude people on Bondi BeachPhotograph: Skin Check Champions/Drew Lambert

“With Australia recording the highest number of deadly skin cancers in the world every year, it made sense to host this monumental public awareness campaign in a city that has so many people at risk,” said Scott Maggs, CEO and founder of the Skin Check Champions. “Beach life is synonymous with Australian culture, but it’s also where a lot of skin cancers can start. We need to send a clear message that skin cancer is real, and it can be stopped in its tracks if more people get their skin checked.” 

The number of participants in this installation was not randomly picked – it was to honour the 2,500+ Aussies who are tragically killed each year by skin cancer. Two out of three Australians are likely to battle skin cancer in their life. 

A crowd of nude models assemble on Bondi beach as photographer on ladders overlookPhotograph: Skin Check Champions/Drew Lambert

“With summer coming up, millions of people will flock to the beach and it is vitally important they know how to protect their skin so they can prevent unnecessary skin cancers,” Tunick said ahead of the shoot. “My goal when I look through the lens is to see a real diversity that represents Australian society – all genders, all races, all body sizes and people of all abilities.”

Mass nude photoshoots are a signature of Tunick’s work. The artist has an affinity for Australia, the installation on Bondi marks Tunick’s fifth project in the country – following iconic installations held at Sydney Opera House (2010), along the Yarra (2001), on Melbourne’s Chapel Street (2018) and online via Zoom (2020). 

When was the last time you had your funky freckles looked over? You can use Skin Check Champion’s handy clinic finder to book a skin check.

Don't need an excuse? These are Sydney's best nudist beaches.

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