Interview With Valda Bailey

Intentional camera movement and multiple exposures are the main techniques behind Valda Bailey’s much-admired abstract landscapes. But it is her first love, painting, that provides her greatest source of ideas and inspiration

You say your approach to photography is greatly informed by your background in painting; can you enlighten me further about this?

Well, I started off painting, or drawing, when I was very young. One of my first memories is of a real urge to be creative. All I ever wanted to do was to draw, paint and to make things. Painting was what got me through school, I was not particularly academic, but I was totally absorbed in art and painting. I went off to art school. In retrospect I went a year too early.

I was brought up in Jersey in the ‘70s, quite a sheltered upbringing, and I was sent off to start art school in London, two days short of my 17th birthday. I was suddenly catapulted into a world of joss sticks, cheesecloth and free-thinking – I was completely out of my depth! I stayed there for a couple of terms but I couldn’t hack it. I came back to Jersey and did other things instead, but I carried on painting.

What sort of subjects were you painting?

I used to paint these things that I imagined in my mind, mostly people going about day-to-day stuff, not so much pretty landscapes, but scenes involving people. I used to spend hours and hours in my bedroom drawing these imaginary scenes.

When I was about 10 I had it in my mind that I would draw for comics. At one point I was going to be a ...

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