Valerie Hird

he countries of the Middle East have been my creative home for the past twenty years. The focus of my work has been to explore cultural myths and their interaction with historical memory. Starting in 1986, my research led me to examine and travel among semi-nomadic communities in Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and Central Asia. Although I am primarily a traditional painter, I have moved into new media by combining the intimate look of hand-drawn sketchbooks with the latest web technologies to create hybrid journals for this project.

I created Maiden Voyages in order to move beyond Western media reportage of war and conflict and look at the specific lives of individual women from the Middle East; to make the experience of being female from one culture accessible to another. I wanted to recognize that women can have a shared experience within the rhythms and routines of daily life and still be very different women from very distinct cultures.

It is ironic that during the year of research I collected the intimate confidences of women who never met and were unaware of each other, I was alone as the single witness in my virtual living room. By presenting The Maiden Voyages Project on the internet, a virtual audience takes my place as the project collator. Internet viewers become the collective witness; a functional and interactive metaphor for evaluating this multilayered experience.

A complete biography and exhibition history is available on my website at:

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