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In Dear Ana, published by Hurtwood Press, award-winning Brazilian photographer Leticia Valverdes tells a tale of twentieth-century Portuguese-Brazilian immigration. Leticia’s sensitive photography creates a moving and bittersweet journey of loss and love whilst describing the duality of longing belonging.

Dear Ana is a lyrical exploration of intergenerational trauma, diaspora, memory, reality and death, bound together by magical realism and an expressive use of materials. It employs multiple papers of different opacities, throwouts, poetic text, cyanotypes, votive offerings and a meaningful use of negative space and layers to explore what it means to dip in and out of reality and be lost in a miasma of converging and fragmented memories and times.


Leticia captures unfulfilled desire and nostalgia through the story of her grandmother Ana, who yearned to return to the Portuguese village of her birth, Mundão, but never got the chance, she emigrated to Brazil when she was two years old and never returned. In memorial Leticia travelled to Mundão, documenting her journey and engaing in her practice of participatory photography inviting the inhabitants of Mundão to write postcards to her now-dead grandmother. In doing so the villagers became the fictional Portuguese friends Ana dreamed she had whilst dying from Alzheimers in Brazil.

As part of the book’s creative direction Leti and I collaborated closely together to create additional content specifically for the book. All of which was conceived and executed to compound a strong sense of place and Saudade in the design; to immerse the reader in the sights, smells and sensations of Mundão. In making this additional content the performative aspect of Leti’s original project continued; she created cyanotypes under the Portuguese sun and performed and documented votive offerings of native wild flowers to photographs of her grandmother Ana. I hand drew typography with a fountain pen made in the same decade as Ana’s migration and we kept in constant dialogue throughout the process. We also worked closely with poet and author Octavia Bright who helped fashion Leticia's jounal into poetic pebbles to be woven through the images for the reader to discover and help highten the sense of magical realism.


Published by Hurtwood Press

Artists: Leticia Valverdes

Contributors: Octavia Bright, Angela Berlinde

All images courtesy of Hurtwood Press

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