An adult lioness, muscles visibly taut as she prepares to bound after a fleeing zebra. A mother and calf pairing of Rothchild’s giraffes, standing upon a bleak and stormy landscape. A great white shark, its entire body propelled out of the surface of the sea, as it pursues its prey – a doomed fur seal – in a great flurry of white foam and spray. An enormous African bull elephant, looking directly down at you, the texture of its wrinkled body displayed vividly against the dry and dusty savannah in which it roams. A family of gorillas, deep in the lush Virunga rainforest. A pair of rhinoceroses, their bodies intimately entwined with the surrounding environment, which protrudes out from the canvas towards you, almost begging to be felt.
‘Life-size’ doesn't always mean life-size. But when wildlife artist Omra Sian creates artwork, he aims high. His latest creations depict a series of endangered species in their natural habitats, recreated on vast acrylic canvases, some over six metres tall and seven metres wide.
The artworks comprise the latest venture by the Born Free Foundation, in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Art World Conservation, to raise both funds and awareness of the various plights which all the animals on display are facing, from widespread poaching – particularly of elephants and rhinos for their ivory – to industrial shark finning, to the global habitat destruction which is wiping out lions, tigers, giraffe and many other species.
Artist Sian commented on the decade-long work which led to the exhibition:
‘I once read a quote that said “Life begins when you come out of your comfort zone”, so I made sure I stayed out of mine to create this collection. The collection makes people challenge the way they think about the natural world. It is the IMAX of wildlife art and the images painted are scientifically correct. It really was a labour of love!
‘To create canvases on this scale required me to climb up and down scaffolding up to 40 times a day, or paint whilst lying on the floor for hours at a time, so each piece really does represent a huge amount of physical and mental dedication, as well as investment of time. The event will inspire, educate and inform visitors – young and old – about the world we live in; the creatures and habitats we share it with and why they are so important to conserve. Often the simplest of changes by many people can make an enormous difference and this event is about inspiring those changes.’