By Hayley Pugh
These heartwarming images show desperately ill children transported to their very own magical wonderland – in a bid to make all their dreams come true.
Talented digital artist, Karen Alsop from Story Art, uses her extraordinary photography and Photoshop skills to bring the hopes and dreams of severely disabled children to life.
The award winning artist from Melbourne, Australia first came up with the idea, dubbed the HeART Project last year when she was approached by Jacqui Griffin whose daughter, Tahliyah, suffers from a mystery illness which leaves her confined to a wheelchair.
Karen, 37, went on to create two beautiful scenes for Tahliyah – one which lifts her from her wheelchair and the constraints of her body giving her ‘Wings to Fly’ and another called ‘Heart of a Lion’ which shows her at one with nature.
The artist then produced another story for six-year-old Sienna, who is a triplet.
She suffers from Cerebral Palsy, Autism and Epilepsy while her brother, Harry and her sister Grace were born without complications.
Sienna’s pictures show her flying freely with her siblings in a scene reminiscent of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan.
For Joshua, who dreams of being an NBA basketball star, Karen created a picture of him slamdunking with his ‘superhero’ helper dog, Jess.
Joshua was born with Vein of Galen Malformation – a malformation in the blood vessels of his brain – which has resulted in him having six strokes.
The inspiring images bring photography and art together to create stunning pieces that tell a story and take the viewer and the subject into another world.
Karen uses the power of Photoshop to composite multiple pictures together – making the impossible possible within her art.
She said: “In January, 2016, I was contacted by Jacqui Griffin, a photographer who had been following my Story Art work.
“Jacqui shared with me her desire to have me create an image of her daughter, Tahliyah, freeing from her physical limitations.
“Tahliyah, 5, was constrained by a mystery illness that rendered her unable to speak, walk or even hold herself upright.
“Jacqui’s message prompted me in an area I’d already considered. I saw this as an opportunity to make a tangible difference with my Story Art work.
“I contacted a family charity to establish The Heart Project. Tahliyah’s was the first, and was soon followed by Sienna and Joshua’s projects.”
“For Sienna and Joshua’s project we reached out to the community. There was a flood of interest in what we were doing and it was so hard to choose just two.
“We have a long list of families that we would love to help in the future.
“Most of my work takes on average between 10 and 20 hours just in post production in Adobe Photoshop. This doesn’t include the work that goes into planning and photographing the elements.
“I love the whole process though, and get lost in my art. Hours can drift by very quickly.
“When it comes to The Heart Project, the most difficult part is choosing our subjects, when there are so many hurting families out there.
“It’s my hope that we can expand The Heart Project worldwide, and empower other digital photographic artists to offer similar services.
“This would give us the opportunity to meet more needs on a larger scale.
Karen, who started photography as a teenager and was inspired by her grandfather who was an accomplished photographer, said families tend to cry when they see the final images.
She added: “They have no idea what to expect and when they see their child or themselves free and joyous in picture form, it is extremely moving.
“Most often the response is ‘wow’ followed by speechlessness and tears. It brings me joy to see the impact my work makes on these families.
“Many of the children we’ve worked with are unable to verbally communicate. But they have still reacted with happiness and understanding.
You can see it in their eyes. The power of imagery to move hearts is amazing.
“I love using my own God given gifts and talents to bring hope and joy to lives is really priceless. You can’t put a price on the value of these pieces because of how much the mean to the family.
“They communicate their story, their journey. It’s so true; giving is better than receiving.”