In June 2010 a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. This sensitive and challenging photographic project is in response to her story. My aim is to try and express thoughts and emotions through a combination of text and the Derbyshire landscape.

AA2A Exhibition University of Derby

June 25, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

Are you in the area tomorrow (Tuesday 26th June) 5.30pm? If so why not come along to the opening of our exhibition at Markeaton Street (ground floor), we would love to meet you, talk about our work and the AA2A programme. Hope to see you there.  

The exhibition...

June 12, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

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The prints are at the picture framers and my artist's statement is written. We meet at Uni on Friday to begin hanging work for our exhibition. Very excited, nervous as well, but that's just me!

Once I know the exact time and date of our preview I can let you know, and if you are in the area do pop in and say hello.

Anyway here is a precis for you of the final chapter in this first series...


Six individual weather-beaten statues of the same female are situated within the rose gardens at Hopton Hall in Derbyshire. There is no specific history behind them but to me they symbolise the changes my friend Tracy's body has gone through, as a result of six sessions of chemotherapy.

The text I have chosen to use is a poem written by her as she was undergoing her treatment. 



Work in progress...

May 30, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

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...a Belper girl, that's a good starting point. So I took my camera for a walk concentrating in the area in which she grew up, but I had very little success. What was I hoping to achieve?

I referred back to my little pink book and for one reason or another, three things seemed to be continually jumping out at me.


I have a list of places all of which are important to her, but these have no real meaning to me. What if we were to select one from that list and visit together? 


While it may raise questions for others in similar circumstances, my friend has drawn comfort and support through her strong religious beliefs, although she does admit her prayers have usually been for others rather than herself. In what way can my work reflect this?


As a form of personal therapy, my friend had been writing some wonderful poetry during her treatment. I was surprised, I didn't know. How do I decide on the text now? 

Where do I go from here?

As you know, my original idea was to combine text with photographs of the Derbyshire landscape. I had always wanted this project to have a real positive feel to it, but the more I listened to my friend, the more my thoughts about this changed. I was confused but gradually everything started to become very much clearer to me.

The work should be as true a reflection of her feelings, not mine. This was important, the illness is real, it's happening to her... 











Time to experiment...

May 29, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

I have never stopped learning since I graduated, and when I knew I had been accepted for this programme I saw it as an opportunity not only to work on my project, but also to experiment. I decided I wanted to get my hands dirty and try out some alternative printmaking for the first time.

This was a good decision, as although time was limited, it was well spent both in the print room at Brit Mill getting a taste for Intaglio, as well as the more familiar darkroom environment at Markeaton Street.

Photograms, collographs, embossing, drypoint and solarplate printing.  Exciting, beautiful, creative...I can and will apply most of these newly acquired skills to future work, with practice of course.

Anyway, in between work, experimentation, and with the prospect of an exhibition looming, I had a very important date.  




The Beginning...

May 23, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

When I started this project I knew it would be very challenging for me as it is so very different to anything I have done before. Usually I go out with my camera and make work purely from my own response to something I might see in passing, and so it begins. This time my friend is my work. 

You think you know someone, and yet I have seen a very different side to her over these last two years. As we have spent time together, particularly for this project, I have listened, and tried to understand, but how could I possibly express through my photographs what she is thinking and feeling? 

I did spend a lot of time in the library, as it was important for me to research other artists. (Do I mention names here I wonder? I am not sure, but if you are interested please do get in touch, I am happy to help).

Having made countless notes, I had to begin narrowing it all down in some way. What was helping my friend get through this? Was there anything she kept returning to in our conversations? Glad I have my little pink book, I will need to refer back...







What I do to while away a Saturday afternoon.

January 28, 2012 by Valerie Dalling   Comments (0)

I have never tried embossing before, but that's what this programme is encouraging me to do, experiment. After dry embossing on card, I decided to try it out using the computer and one of my photographs! My first attempt is not brilliant I know, a bit rough around the edges, but still quite an achievement for me!

Take a look in my image album ' experimenting with embossing'. You will need to look closely as it's quite dark I am afraid, but in some ways I like that, having to look deeper into the fragility of the image, as it just starts to appear on what otherwise is seemingly no more than a blank canvas, and yet it is a photograph. Interesting...

I will need to practice of course and will hopefully add more images as I progress.