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Animal Beings by Bella West

Animal Beings by Bella West

A shotgun toting, tweed wearing man poses for the camera in a field of corn that is ten foot high. A woman in a vintage dress gazes at her appearance in the mirror, while a micro family sit at a pub table. So far, so normal except that each human is vastly transfigured by the animal mask they wear.

Animal Beings, a remarkable series of images by Dorset portrait photographer Bella West has just been awarded gold by the British Institute of Professional Photography. It came about when she happened to walk past the shop Owl in Frome and spotted artist Gladys Paulus's extraordinary felt masks.

Bella says: "I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph people wearing the masks. I was fascinated by the strength and power the animal gives to a human.'


To create an aristocratic atmosphere, Bella borrowed vintage clothes, dressed her male model in tweeds, carrying a shot gun but wearing a hare's mask. And so the picture becomes  a classic inversion of blood sports.

Bella says: "I wanted to give the animals the upper hand, they are taking control."



The images were shot in and around Frome, in a pub and at an old disused squash court near Pythouse in Wiltshire.


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