Francesca Page is an artist and diver creating powerful pieces of art to inspire people to become more involved in marine conservation.
T: How did you begin painting? Was it something you’ve done since you were a child or did it come later in life?
FP: I have always created, from the moment I could pick up a paintbrush and pencil. Its something I have always loved and from the moment go, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I was lucky to have a mum who was an artist and my parents have always been super supportive of my creative dreams, always pushing me to create more and to follow my heart.
T: What led you to incorporating marine life and highlighting marine issues through your art?
FP: As a diver and illustrator, I knew that each time I went on a dive, I was seeing a part of the world many could not – I have had some magical experiences underwater that have cemented my passion and understanding for the sea. As an artist, I felt it was my duty to show the world what I saw. When I draw, I focus on the beauty of the creature. We get immune to gore and violence – we see it as normal. People aren’t scared of it anymore. But if I show how beautiful something is, I can help people fall in love with it, just as I have. Art is the universal language and a powerful tool, we must use our skills to create change. I feel passionate about combing together art and conservation to connect and educate people to about our oceans, creating Art For Change.
T: Is there a particular piece you’ve created that you’re most proud of?
FP: For me there isn’t a particular piece, as my creative journey is constantly evolving and one moment I love a painting and the next moment all I can see is flaws. A piece that helped me find my feet in creating art for the environment was a map I did on the Amazon rainforest 2 years ago. This was a time that I new I wanted to create art that was more than a ‘pretty picture’. I wanted to create something that would have an impact on someone, make them question, think and do. It’s so important to create with passion! That passion is what shines through and changes minds. When I start a project, I research, I interview and I go explore. In this project I contacted a shaman, went to a conference, read everything I could find, and spoke to anyone I could who understood the subject matter better than I did. I wanted to transfer this knowledge I had learnt about how important the rainforest is, into my art. This piece helped cement my art practice and from this drawing on I have dedicated my practice to helping raise awareness about the beautiful planet that we live in. Currently I am most proud of my 200 sharks project, I am at the beginning stages of it, but feel so optimistic and enjoying the already exciting journey it is taking me on.
T: Tell us a bit about your #200Sharks Project!
FP: I would like to start off by telling you where my love for sharks came from. It all began when I first entered the ocean at 15, my eyes where opened to a magical underwater playground. When I met my first shark, it swam away from me. A ‘man eating’ creature I was told my whole life to be afraid of, was in fact afraid of me. From that point on, I reaized there was nothing to be scared of, they where in fact incredible, beautiful and actually very timid yet curious creatures to dive with. What I love about diving with sharks is how just like humans each has its own unique personality, some are shy, some are inquisitive, some are even playful! The most memorable shark encounters I have had are with Threshers and Whale Sharks.
The 200 sharks project evolved from dissertation in my last year at University. I researched how visual communication can have a positive impact on the environment, this lead me to combining my love for diving and the ocean with my art to create, ’90 seconds catch’. A massive 1-meter by 2 meter watercolour and ink a painting depicting 300 sharks to represent how many are lost to man. After I graduated I new that this project wasn’t over and I had only just begun a possibly lifetime project. I started the 200 sharks a few months ago; my aim was to illustrate 200 different types of shark to represent the beauty and diversity of the species. To engage more people about how incredible sharks are and to also highlight how important they are to not only the oceans eco-system but to life on earth! As Sylvia Earle said, ‘No blue, No green.’ I chose 200 as that is how many shark are estimated to be lost every 60 seconds. I am currently on my 8th shark and I have really enjoyed working with photographers and collaborating with some awesome people to get the message out there. I want to create an army of shark lovers, create a shark revolution!
T: What inspires you to keep creating?
FP: Our ever-changing oceans and planet keeps me creating. My passion is constantly growing and the ocean is my second home, I must protect what I love!
T: What have you checked off your bucket list and what’s another you can’t wait to check off soon.
FP: Since learning to dive at 13 I always wanted to dive with whale sharks and mantas, this came true when I was 17. Now at 22, my aims for 2018 is to complete my Dive Masters, freedive to 25 meters, dive with humpback whales, learn how to operate a camera underwater and see more sharks, the sharks on my bucket list are: Hammerheads, tiger sharks, great whites, leopard shark, blue sharks, basking sharks, mako and oceanic white tip. I would also love to experience whale sharks, threshers and manta rays again, was such a magical experience! In terms of my art, I would love to have a solo exhibition show casing my 200 sharks, that would be a dream!
T: What are your three favorite Thessalonike items?
FP: It would have to be the Hahalua Ring, Nikki ring in Rose Gold, obsessed with the Vesper Choker and love all of the sarongs, need to get these in my life for diving adventures!
T: What’s your main advice to others interested in making their day to day lives more eco-friendly and safer for the ocean?
FP: There is a lot we can do on a day to day basis that will not only benefit the oceans but the planet, we are all connected. The first thing we all have control over is what we spend our money on and what we put in our mouths. Unfortunately our western diet is having such a negative impact on our oceans. The meat, dairy and fishing industry is destroying our blue, depleting our fish stocks, creating dead zones in the ocean, destroying miles of coral cities, marine life dieing for no reason from fishing practices and altogether making it harder for ocean creatures to survive in the oceans. You don’t need to go vegan over night, but you must look at what you're putting in your basket, and ask the question, where did it come from? Another massive thing we need to do is to think, reuse and reduce! Plastic is having a major impact on the oceans. Try out a zero waste life style, say no to that straw when you are out at a bar, bring your own bag to the shops, your own coffee cup to the café, invest in a steel water bottle and support stainable clothing brands and companies. We need to start putting pressure on companies to go eco-friendly, the more demand we create the more impact that can happen! There is so much we can do on an individual level.
T: What piece or project are you working on now that you’re most excited about?
FP: The 200 sharks project is getting a lot of my focus at the moment, the more sharks I paint the more passionate and excited I am getting about it! I am also currently planning a project on coral bleaching. I am at the stage of observing and researching about coral reefs. Research is key to my work. My twin sister is currently doing a PHD in coral bleaching and find her research inspiring and fascinating. Would love to bring her findings to light through art. The one thing I am releasing is that corals are extremely hard to draw, but I am determined to get it right! Hope to be showing more about this project soon.
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