Book Project

Book Project

  • The Secret Inside Me is a book project started in 2016 with the aim of sharing my personal story of parental cancer and creating something meaningful for others. The project is a healing journey where art becomes a tool for self-expression through the use of colours and natural elements.
  • The purpose is to give support during emotional distress to anyone in need of enhancing the communication between loved ones, and to encourage people to use art as a tool for emotional healing.

“How art can emotionally help people affected by cancer in expressing themselves and in sharing their feelings with children and relatives?”

The story

The Secret Inside Me is a project I started in 2016 during my MA in Illustration. When I was asked to work on something meaningful for my major project the response came out loud and clear: cancer.

Cancer affected my childhood, leading my family to fall apart. Communication was a major issue. As part of me was still emotionally affected by it, I knew I had to do something about it. Art has always been a tool to express myself and to unleash my emotions, especially when verbal communication was a struggle. Although I could feel the therapeutic effects that had on me, such as realising anxiety, I never thought of it as a way of healing.

After years of silence and unspoken words the opportunity came up and I started my journey. Cancer was a topic my mum never spoke about, it was a secret she kept inside. I always felt it was something I wasn’t allowed to talk about therefore my project started with a question:

“How art can emotionally help people affected by cancer in expressing themselves and in sharing their feelings with children and relatives?”

At first, I wanted to share my story of parental cancer through a graphic novel representing what I went through as a teenage girl because communication was broken. But the final outcome turned out to be a photographic book representing my mum’s emotional journey.

Due the course of the five months it took me, I did tell my mum I was working on a project but I didn’t really disclose the details. I just told her I was exploring art as a therapy to help people affected by cancer and that I started volunteering for a charity who aim is to provide support for cancer patients and their relatives, that was all. When I finished the project and sent her the book I was shocked about her response. She broke into tears and said

“How did you know how I was feeling? I didn’t know you understood, I never told you.”

They were tears of joy, I guess of relief as well. She knew somehow she didn’t have to hide from me anymore. But the most uplifting part was yet to come…few days later she sent me few pages of a personal diary she wrote to herself when she was ill and that was very first time she was showing and sharing those intimate words to anyone. I then cried out joy and thought:

“I did it! She is finally opening up”.

From that moment we started to talk like equals and shared what we both kept as a secret for seventeen years.In that moment I also realised why I have chosen art as my purpose in life, to share and connect with people, because art is a powerful channel of communication and everybody can benefit from it.

The project has been a way of healing from my past and an opportunity to share my story with others whom might go through the same struggle and to give a message of hope.

  • © Sara Pelle, 2016
  • All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any forms by any means, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the artist. Sara Pelle has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as author of this work.
  • No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organisation acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by the author.


  • Colour Your Mood  is a workshop in collaboration with Maggie’s West London, which the aim is to explore people’s mood by choosing a colour and to create a tissue paper flower.

    During the workshop participants were invited to create a flower to decorate the tree.

    The result is a colourful mood tree that celebrates each person.


  • 2017 – Art at the Bridge – Engine Rooms, Tower Bridge – London
  • 2017 – Platform for emerging art #14 – Leyden Gallery – London
  • 2016 – Different Gallery – London