We caught up with photographer Valerie Dalling ahead of her exploring the landscape workshop at Studio 61 Gallery to find out what inspires her.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Valerie Dalling, I’m a Derbyshire based visual artist and founder of The Image Club. I try to be creative in my own way, love all aspects of art and photography and spend as much time as possible walking in the landscape with my camera…there’s always plenty to see.
What’s your background?
After sitting behind a desk in various mundane office admin roles, and working in finance for a number of years, I guess I must have been going through some sort of midlife crisis when I said to myself “that’s enough”.
A friend encouraged me to explore my creative side through photography and so I began by enrolling on an evening course which was great, particularly time spent in the darkroom.
Now here’s a story…I do remember feeling particularly proud of a photograph I had taken at Elvaston Castle, it was well ‘composed’ or so I thought, but upon showing it to my tutor he suggested very kindly that I go back to the same spot and look again! Sound advice which has stayed with me ever since.
Well that was about 12 years ago now, and I knew I wanted to know more. So after discussions with my family I made the decision to take early retirement and went on to study Fine Art Photography at the University of Derby.
Despite the fact that I have no regular income any more, it still turned out to be the best decision I could have made.
Describe a real life situation that inspired you.
I am an ideas person, and like many artists constantly inspired by real life situations happening every day, but I do like to go at my own pace, let my work grow organically and just see what happens.
I do have a number of ongoing personal projects, one of which came about in 2010, as a result of a real life situation, when a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been a constant source of inspiration to me, as has her poetry and faith, and as we continue to work together, I find some of my photography goes much deeper, more spiritual if that makes sense.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Well two immediately spring to mind. The first framed photograph I ever sold was called ‘Through Stones’, a black and white image taken at Curbar in the Peak District. I was taking part in an Arts Market at The Royal Derby Hospital and remember this lady who seemed to like the picture and asked for my card. I thought no more of it until I received a phone call from her asking if she could buy it…nine months later!
The second memorable response was not only seeing one of my photographs hanging in Derby Museum and Art Gallery as part of the 2009 Derby City Open, but being congratulated by a member of their staff on having one of my ‘paintings’ selected for the exhibition. I didn’t correct him!
What inspires you?
Other people. I love to listen to others and look at how they see the world around them through their work. Whether they are professional artists with years of experience, or a member of the community, I am fascinated.
What do you dislike about your work?
I think as an artist you find yourself constantly being self critical, well I do anyway. I am continually striving to improve, and while I put everything into my work, I always feel I can do better and will never stop learning.
What do you like about your work?
I like to feel I can help others, whether that’s in a kind of advisory or supportive capacity, or by simply providing enjoyment for them in some way through The Image Club or my own landscape photography.
What is your dream project?
Most definitely to return to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but this time be paid for it.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
This is difficult; particularly living so close to the beautiful Peak District and loving the diverse landscape our country has to offer, but visiting the Grand Canyon had such an impact on me that I would say it has to have influenced my work. I must include North Norfolk though, as I feel this is my second home. I have so many memories of family holidays there, and while the holidays still continue, I am also seeing a completely different landscape now, as in 2004 I started to document the effects of coastal erosion on the village of Happisburgh…this work continues.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Oh dear, this is a bit like editing photos, just giving one answer (one picture) instead of several! “Be yourself” my mum.
Thank you for your time. Valerie!
Our April exhibition continues in the main gallery with Jenny Aitken and Nansy Ferrett and our artist in a window is Rebecca Louise Wilson. To read about them click on the links in the side bar.