An elephant towers above my head; just a few footsteps away a mother giraffe stands protectively over her young calf. From this vantage point I can see a closely camouflaged lioness stalking a skittish zebra. I’m not on safari in Africa though; I’m standing in the Royal Horticultural Halls in central London, surrounded by lifesized acrylic paintings of animals in their natural habitats.
The astonishing ‘This is Our World’ exhibition was comprised of a collection of work by acclaimed British-born artist Omra Sian.
Incredibly, some pieces spanned more than six metres in height and seven metres wide!
The exhibition focused on educating, informing and inspiring visitors from all walks of life about wildlife, conservation and climate change, and was curated by not for profit organisation Art World Conservation.
Each artwork was accompanied by a poignant description of the endangered species depicted and the reason they are threatened – so it was no surprise that the exhibition was hosted in partnership with the Born Free foundation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
It’s honestly hard to not feel overwhelmed standing among such detailed and textured scenes showcasing the heart of the African Savannah, the icy Arctic Circle, the lush Amazon Rainforest and the dramatic scenes found deep in the ocean.
Apparently this is the first time the acrylic-on-canvas paintings have been displayed collectively — due to public demand!
There really is a power in seeing these images of some of the planet’s most iconic wildlife species standing side-by-side, as the exhibition title suggests; it really gives a sense of one world, which belongs to us all.
High-definition paintings include the endangered black rhino, majestic lion, towering Rothschild giraffe and elusive great white shark, and information throughout the exhibition (which has also hosted talks from leading wildlife charities and conservationists) offered the chance to learn more about efforts to protect wildlife from threats including climate change and the illegal wildlife trade.
Artist and conservationist Omra Sian has been a professional artist for over 30 years.
He spent over 10 years meticulously researching and creating this unique body of work, and travelled around the world to study his subjects in their natural habitats.
Omra hopes that the imagery will both inspire and educate visitors to learn more about conserving the planet and why it is paramount we all do so.
He says: “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. Educating children is paramount as they are the future, and I hope the painting will inspire them to learn about flora and fauna, as I did when I was a child”.
It is hoped that this collection can be taken around the globe to education and inspire everybody to conserve the planet for a sustainable future.
Good news if you aren’t able to make it to London for its final days!