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Solace by Daisy Walker
Courtesy of Daisy Walker

This artist takes nudes to raise cash and awareness for survivors of rape

Daisy Walker’s latest series is raising money for London’s Solace Women's Aid, while reminding survivors they are never alone

In 1975, Solace Women’s Aid opened its doors in London as a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse. Over 43 years later, the charity has supported more than 60,000 victims of rape or domestic violence, offering free services including shelter, counselling, therapy, and refuge. Despite the charity’s dire importance in the face of the 85,000 women that are raped every year in England and Wales, Solace has been deeply affected by the government’s budget cuts to women’s services: funding Solace simply can’t survive without. As a result, the charity has had to turn away hundreds of women in desperate need of support.

As a survivor of rape, photographer and founder of Women in Fashion, Daisy Walker, understands the importance of Solace. It’s her experiences with the charity that drove her to produce her most recent series of nudes, Solace, as an ode to both the strength and power she finds in her body as a survivor, as well as a chance to give back to the charity that helped her confront her trauma. Through an eclectic mix of black and white, and sunbathed lighting, Walker’s nudes present anonymous bodies in their entirely natural states. There is a complete sense of liberation in her nude beauties, representing the immortal strength between a person and their nude selves. 

Not only will these images be sold, and the proceeds donated to Solace Women's Aid, but for Walker, the series has served as a form of art therapy for the photographer to reconnect with her body.

To launch her series, below Walker opens up about her experiences, and how Solace changed her life.

“For a lot of trauma experiences, there aren't always words. Perhaps you haven't found them yet. Being able to use visuals to at least express some of those trapped emotions is sometimes the first step. It was certainly the first step for me, and it's the reason that I have always taken nude photos of people. This process was a way I could confront my trauma, and my fears, without words. Art is a form of therapy and relief in itself if you aren't ready to open your mouth and see how you feel in words.

“The process of shooting this series was a part of me actually accepting what had happened to me, allowing myself to own the label, and be okay with that label, and the term rape – it made confront my own fears. This process has really has changed me as a person – it has come to define me as a person. It has really brought to the surface the light and shades of my personality, how much they have been defined by what has happened, but how much I also can use my experience to create something that can speak to other people. 

“For a lot of trauma experiences, there aren't always words...Being able to use visuals to at least express some of those trapped emotions is sometimes the first step” – Daisy Walker

“These photos also come from a place of wanting to give back to Solace Women’s Aid – a charity that offers all kinds of support to survivors of rape and domestic violence. Solace has had huge cuts from the government, despite being one of the only charities in London that offers completely free counselling, so a lot of women who are fleeing homes from domestic abuse are given completely free and accessible support. The main reason that I am happy to say that I have received therapy from this charity, and therefore say that I was raped, is because I really hope that someone reading this article who maybe hasn't thought about getting therapy, or thought it was too scary, or is pushing these feelings to the back, may see these photos and think, at least I'm not alone. I wouldn't say that this it's easy, it's been really hard to go through this process, but, I'm okay. And I think it's really important we are having those conversations and there is that awareness.

“The purpose of this series for me is twofold. It really made me realise that I was quite naive, like, ‘oh I'll have therapy and be fixed’. I mean, it’s literally taken me like 20 years to get therapy. So there’s a personal element of hoping what I get out of this is actually a greater understanding where I am at, and how much this is going to be an ongoing journey. 

“But, the wider hope is to let people know they aren’t alone.

“Recently I was reading an article about childhood trauma and it was the first time that I had seen mirrors in front of me: the exact same coping mechanisms that I had adopted. It was really hard and really jarring to read, but it was incredibly important because it made me feel so much less isolated.

“Sadly I know there will be people who read this who will have had similar experiences to me, so I hope that this at least makes them feel a little less alone or just helps them confront their trauma. Or if they think, ‘wow actually there's someone in the industry I could potentially go to and ask questions’, then I am more than willing to be that person. I am here.”

Solace will be on sale tomorrow, 26 April. You can buy prints from the series here. You can also donate to Solace Women’s Aid here.