Ballymahon Poet Steps Out of Her Comfort Zone

by Patrick Conboy 

Valerie MastersOne County Longford poet is preparing to take the leap and reveal her work to the public for the first time as part of a unique artistic collaboration with her daughter.

‘The Naked Truth Series’ will open at the Backstage Theatre’s Atrium Gallery on Thursday, November 7th – an exhibition consisting of Body Image paintings by Lorraine Masters, with her mother, Valerie, contributing poetry which will be incorporated into the artwork.

“Lorraine has provided the inspiration for me with her paintings,” Valerie admits. “She completed her BA in Fine Art & Printing at the University of Limerick last year and as part of her graduate exhibition she featured a collection of Body Image works. She incorporated mirrors with snippets of my poems and we decided we’d like to explore the idea further.”

Her daughter, who at 22 years-old now runs her own studio in Limerick, subsequently received the Limerick Art Society Award for Excellence Shown, and her work has already come to the attention of art experts.

Describing their collaborative process, Valerie says: “Before she completes the paintings, Lorraine passes them on to me, and I’ll draw inspiration from the images for my writing. I then hand them back to her and she finishes off the art by adding my words.

“If this exhibition is successful,” she continues, “we hope to bring The Naked Truth Series to other galleries as well.”

Valerie has been quietly working on her writing for almost 20 years but the only people to witness her creative output until now have been the members of her local writing group and followers of her blog, valeriemasters.blogspot.com. “I’ve always written, but I really got serious about it in 1994 after my youngest child was born,” she says. “Then I joined the Ballymahon Writers Group in 1998. The group really motivates me to write, and they’re bluntly honest.”

While she chiefly focuses on poetry, Valerie also writes short stories and she explains that she explores juxtaposing themes in each discipline: “My poetry is dark, dealing with topics such as death and depression. My short stories, on the other hand, tend to funny although it’s difficult for me to pin them to a specific genre. I’ve written 22 stories so far and I’d like to see if I can publish them at some point.”