The Reluctant Genius
Few artists are lucky enough to gain recognition during their working lifetime, a premature death seems to be the best career move, but as there are no pockets in a shroud it is a somewhat drastic and pointless step.
Sadly talent isn’t the only requirement for success, in such difficult markets a knack for self publicity (Lenkiewicz springs to mind) notoriety (see Lucien Freud) or a mountain of cash with which to (allegedly) buy your own works to maintain a market (Damien Hirst) are all other plus’s when it comes to establishing your place in the market.
But what happens when you actively shun interest in your work? It’s a tricky one and requires the perseverance and belief of a dealer not put off by rebuffs. Enter Valerie Davide stage left and Sharon Davidson of Davidson Fine Art in Totnes stage right.
The journey that ensued between the two is detailed in this book. It tells the story from Val’s humble beginnings in war torn London, to Hayle in Cornwall and finally to her current home in Sussex. It tells of her impoverished and abusive childhood, her salvation in the form of therapy and the one constant relationship, the one she enjoys with her animals. She is a remarkable woman, of that there is no doubt and she has an almost other worldly relationship with animals that has endured her entire life.
Valerie’s work, even now when she is in her 70’s displays the imagination and energy of a twenty something, the only pointer to her age is the confidence of stroke and the underlying ability to know to when to stop.
The book contains over 40 images of Valerie’s drawings, collated by Sharon Davidson over the last 7 years, the period over which their artist/dealer relationship has been built. Val is naturally reclusive, a very private person who doesn’t comprehend people’s fascination with her or her work. That the book has been published at all is testimony to the immense trust built up between the two.
It is a project that Val took some persuading to undertake, she doesn’t even believe in a having a CV – “my work is my CV” she says but Sharon was not put off, her story is too inspiring, her work too unique for that.