Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Naked photo at Sydney Opera House highlights openness

Naked people in front of Sydney Opera House, Australia (1 March 2010)
Organisers had not expected so many people to take part in the shoot

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

More than 5,000 people have shed their clothing on the steps of the Sydney Opera House to pose for a photograph by the American artist Spencer Tunick.

The organisers had only expected about half that number to take part.

The installation had been commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which took place over the weekend.

For once the eye was diverted away from the magnificent white sails of the Sydney Opera House.

It was drawn instead to the tableau of naked flesh assembled on its steps.

"Gay men and women lay naked next to their straight neighbours and this delivered a very strong message to the world that Australians embrace a free and equal society," Tunick said.

More than 5,000 men and women shed their clothing - people of all ages, shapes and sizes, who were undeterred by the chilly pre-dawn weather on this, the first morning of the southern autumn.

Tunick, famed for his snapshots of mass nudity in public spaces, had been commissioned by the organisers of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which took place over the weekend.

The naked models included a pregnant woman, who went straight to hospital afterwards to give birth, and a television weatherman whose viewers got to see considerably more than his usual Monday morning forecast.

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