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CREDIT: Ria Mishaal FRPS

Ria Mishaal FRPS

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Statement of Intent

Project Animalia

In this project, I wanted to create meaningful portraits of children they could connect with. I had the idea to create composites of children with their favourite animals, but rather than the stoic atmosphere of a Dutch Masters’ painting, I wanted to capture the personality of the children and animals, showing them interacting as if they were really in the same space. The aim was to create painterly, fantastical images that would look to the children as if they could be real. All images are composites.

The children varied in age from 2.5yrs – 10yrs, and were photographed in my studio with parents present, against backdrops I hand-painted. All animals were live and photographed in my studio, at zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and in the wild on travel trips I have taken. I devised compositions that would suit the personality of the children and the species they had chosen.

When children discover they share this world with other living creatures, it opens their hearts and minds, and creates empathy for others. With ‘Project Animalia’, I wanted to encourage children’s connection with and respect for the natural world, by showing them interacting with their favourite animals through digital composites. My images narrate the importance of animals in our lives, as they fill our dreams, star in our stories and teach us about our place in nature. Simultaneously, I aim to remind people that wild animals only belong in our imaginations and in the wild. They are not, and never should be, pets.