June Eco-Artist: Francesca Page Art
Francesca Page & Shark Guardian Interview
Q1. Hi, Francesca – We’re thrilled to have you as our Eco Artist of the Month for June! Tell us a bit about yourself and your story
I am so excited to be apart of Shark Guardians Eco Artist of the month! I am a British internationally selling artist, published illustrator, award winning Nat Geo photographer, dive Instructor, storyteller and the founder of the 200 Sharks project.
I create large scale watercolour and gouache paintings of wildlife interacting with their environment based on my own photos, adventures and encounters. I am obsessed with colour, movement, detail and pushing my medium boundaries. As well as my art being an extension of my soul and serves as a form of personal expression and therapy, it also gives me a voice for nature. It is a powerful medium to communicate my experiences out in the field and also serves as an important catalyst to connect you, the viewer, with the incredible planet I have fallen in love with. Art opens the empathy door, inviting you into a world you may not have explored or to a place in your mind you have not investigated. Art helps to provoke feeling and passion, which I believe is the foundation to taking the first steps into anthropogenic consciousness. Once you love something you will do anything to protect it.
Q2. When did you get started as an artist?
I have been drawing and painting ever since I could pick up a pencil and I was born with a natural gift to be able to document the world around me in a very realistic way. But it is not without years of dedication and practice to my skill that I have been able to push the limits of watercolour and create the work that I do. But I am still just at the start of this epic ocean art journey, and I am so excited to see where my paint brushes, my camera and the ocean takes me.
Q3. What came first for you – Scuba or art?
For me art came first and the ocean came second. Growing up I had a fear of the ocean due to an accident that happened to me when I was very young. Growing up I was fascinated by nature and all I wanted to do was paint and draw the animals around me. It wasn’t until I was 13 when my dad brought me Scuba Diving lessons to try get over my fear that my eyes where opened to a whole new incredible world that lies under the waves. My life, passion and mindset change in a matter of lessons and scuba diving made me realized that fear is all in the mind. From that moment on I knew that diving was going to be a big part of my career and creative practice. It lead me to go onto becoming a Diving instructor, underwater photographer and shark addict!! I have been dedicating my art practice to the ocean since I was 17 when I had my first encounter with a Thresher shark, my mindset and life’s path changed and my 200 Sharks project was born.
Q4. Do you have a favourite marine life species (and a favourite shark species)?
It has got to be the magnificent shark! What made me fall head over heels in love with this creature is from diving with them, observing their power and grace in the water is not only mind blowing to behold but also humbling. Sharks are an ancient species, having been on the earth for more than 450 million years – more than 2000 times longer than modern humans. Experiencing them gracefully glide through the water you are watching millions of years of perfect evolution which I find so beautiful and inspiring.
My passion for sharks and wanting to save them came from a very special encounter I had when I was 17 with Thresher sharks around Malapascua Island in the Philippines. After this dive I lost my fear of sharks. The very creature we are taught to fear, in the space of 5 minutes taught me that these are intelligent, social, and inquisitive creatures are more than just a set of jaws and that they deserve our respect. Since then, the ocean has become my playground as well as my purpose in life. This encounter helped shape the artist I am today and this is why I included a Thresher shark in the 200 Sharks logo.
It was my last dive of the trip and I had blocked sinuses, but I was adamant I wanted to see thresher sharks, so I continued with the dive. Our group started the descent together and then I hit the wall at 5 metres; I couldn’t equalise. The divemaster was signalling to ask if I wanted to end the dive, but I had a gut feeling that I couldn’t leave the water, not just yet. Ten minutes went by and I started signalling to the divemaster. But then he pointed to his left, screaming into his regulator... A flash of silver and blue; I looked to my right to find myself staring into the massive eyes of a three meter thresher shark. My heart stopped. Not from fear, but from wonder and amazement. I was speechless. The thresher shark was about one meter away from me, and I was captivated by its huge eyes for what seemed like forever. In those long 30 seconds, I formed a deep connection; it felt like I’d had a conversation with the shark. I realised that this shark was intrigued by us, observing us out of pure curiosity, and not because it was seeing if we were food. And just like that it swam off, into the blue, elegantly gliding through the water with its tail trailing behind like a snake. My passion for sharks was born!
And to answer your question on my favourite sharks it is such a hard one and it’s is always changing the more I dive and learn about different sharks. My favourite at the moment has got to be the Blue shark – they are by far my favourite to dive with, so playful, inquisitive and also stunning. They are a gorgeous shade of blue and their skin reminds me of a fairy coming along and sprinkling sliver and blue glitter (eco friendly glitter) all over their body. I also love the Tiger shark, their incredibly powerful presence in the water literally makes your heart skip a beat. The beauty, softness and shyness of a school of scalloped hammerhead, 100’s of flashes of sliver out in the blue was one of the most powerful dives I have had that lead me to painting the first piece of art for my 200 Sharks project, Divine Feminine. And well I could literally go on and on! They are just such an incredible species!!
Q5. Tell us about your 200 Sharks project – It sounds epic!