SEI: When did you start to focus on painting sharks?
IFP: As I had always been a wildlife artist, I first started trying to help sharks by painting them to show their beauty, but soon switched to writing because, faced with the shark finning crisis, it was obvious that
painting was not going to be enough. I did a lot of illustrations for my books too.
SEI: Which of your paintings
would you emphasize the most?
IFP: I try to select a variety of sharks to paint, not only those that are most
dramatic for divers, such as the tigers, but those considered less interesting. For example, the nurse shark portrait shows one who started following me around like my pet chicken. It was a big one, a good three metres and heavy set. He quite freaked me out,
actually, because I did not know why he would follow me around so relentlessly and still do not!
SEI: One of
the illustrations is named "The unfathomable face of the nurse shark"...
IFP: Yes, he is described in my book, The True Nature of Sharks, in the section on nurse sharks. As it is a less documented species, at least in the fine arts,
I thought people might like the opportunity of seeing a painting of a nurse shark's face.
SEI: Could you name
a favorite painting if you have one?
IFP: The one called Madonna--she was my number one shark and she was finned. This
was the portrait that I did of her to introduce her in The Shark Sessions, and she is the one with me on the cover of that book, where I'm swimming on my back and she is swimming above me, her nose nearly touching mine. That was how we were together, and when
she was finned, I wrote an “Ode to Madonna” for her. One reads all the time about how millions of sharks are being finned, and it is hard to take in, the numbers of them. But when it happens to a shark you love, you reel.
SEI: Again, thank you so much, Ila, for being within the SEI and for sharing a part of your art with all sharks'
IFP: I am very pleased to have been invited to join your international team. Thank you!
Ila France Porcher, SEI's Shark Behaviour Specialist Adviser, and Author of 'The True Nature of Sharks' &
'The Shark Sessions'.
"Whenever a shark dies, somewhere in the world,
the sand advances" – Ila France Porcher.