Tahliyah’s Story – Free to Fly

I’m unsure how to even begin this post. To share Tahliyah’s story and my experience in creating a very special art work for her is difficult to put into words. I will precursor this with a warning; get your tissues out. Tahliyah’s story is sure to move you.

This has been a powerful, hope inspiring project. To get to know this beautiful girl and have the opportunity to visually free her from the restrictions her little body has placed on her has been life changing.


I first came to know of 5 year old Tahliyah when her mum connected with me prior to their move from Adelaide to Melbourne. Jacqui shared with me about her beautiful daughter and the challenges of her unknown condition.

Several months later Jacqui messaged me about wanting a Story Art creation for Tahliyah. A photographic composite that would free Tahliyah from her limited mobility and metaphorically give her ‘wings to fly’.

Tahliyah is unable to walk, unable to speak, but despite this her smile lights up the room and her joy radiates past her physical needs. At 6 months doctors began to figure out that something wasn’t quite right physically with Tahliyah. But to this day her condition remains largely undiagnosed. Part of her diagnosis is Mitochondrial disease however this is only part of the story this little girl is still undergoing numerous tests to try and establish what exactly is going on in her young body.

In planning Tahliyah’s Story Art piece, I asked Jacqui to share with me Tahliyah’s loves, which included animals and her dog Macey. Building from this I came up with an idea to free Tahliyah from the chair, from her restrictions, and create an image with her in the air. I imagined butterflies carrying her through the sky, representative of her family and friends that lift her up and carry her in reality. I wanted her dog in the image looking up in awe next to her mobility chair that was to be left behind in the scene.

Unable to Walk, Unable to Speak, Free to Fly


Tahliyah Free to Fly by Story Art

The ‘how’ of this creation requires a lot more detail, and I’ll share this in another post outlining the technicalities of this creation. But for this image, it’s so much more about the why and the who. Freeing Tahliyah to fly and seeing her family’s reaction to the final image has moved me tremendously.

I invite you to view the creation of ‘Free to Fly’ in video form below



I’ve always known that Story Art had the ability to bring dreams to life, but this project has moved beyond exciting the imagination to bringing real hope and joy. I’m so thankful to Tahliyah for giving me an opportunity to use my own gifts to provide her and and family with this gift of hope.


Jacqui and Kelly shared Tahliyah’s story with me when I delivered their print (seen by them for the first time at their home).

Tahliyah’s Story – A 5 Year Journey


It is my desire to help find an answer for this family and other families who are navigating the confusing waters of unknown diseases and challenging situations. Tahliyah is the same age as my daughter, Jazzlyn. Imagining my own daughter going through similar challenges breaks my heart. I hope that my art in some way can encourage families living daily with these sort of struggles.

It may seem that the backing song to this video was written especially for Tahliyah and in essence it was. It was written for all families struggling through illness and limitations.

Guy Sebastian shares here about the inspiration behind the song, ‘Imagine the Sunrise’. 

The Sebastian Foundation generously provided Tahliyah’s family with ticket’s to Guy Sebastian’s Regional Tour. It was at the after the concert that Guy, Jules and I had the honour met with the family back stage to share some exciting news…

I look forward to sharing part 2 of this story in coming weeks. Together with The Sebastian Foundation we surprised the family with a special gift, which will be revealed soon!

In partnership with The Sebastian Foundation we hope to bring joy to families through future Story Art pieces, raise money for research, and help find answers for Tahliyah’s family and others. This project is called ‘The Heart Project’ and this is only the beginning.

If you would like to support this cause financially you can donate to The Sebastian Foundation .

This project has been made possible by the following businesses, equipment and companies, I’d like to say a big thanks to each of them.

Equipment and Products used in this project:

Canon Australia – Canon 5dsr and 5diii, 24 – 70 2.8L, 16 – 35 2.8 L
EIZO Australia – EIZO Coloredge CG277
Canson Infinity – Baryta Fine Art Paper
Wacom Australia – Wacom Cintiq Companion 2
Kayell Australia – Supplier of Canson Infinity and Epson inks
ProTog – Jinbei LED Continous 150s, HD600’s and 400W Jinbei Strobes
Animoto.com – Slideshow software utalised in ‘Tahliyah’s Story’
TetherTools.com – Tethering cables, attachments and stands for the Wacom to 5DSr on location and in studio
Pixel Squid – 3D Object (Wheelchair) that assisted with angles and placement
Art Defined – Framing of the finished print

Thank you to Jeannette Benbow and Stuart Alsop for their behind the scenes footage

Enquiries regarding sharing this story should be addressed to Karen Alsop – info@storyart.com.au

15 thoughts on “Tahliyah’s Story – Free to Fly

  1. Karen, you are amazing!

    The concept, the skill to bring it to life and the finished art work are all testament to the incredibly talented artist you are.

    My thoughts are with Tahliyah and her family and you weren’t wrong about the song choice and tears.

    Best regards

    1. Thank you so much Andrew! This has certainly been a life changing project. I feel like I’ve received much more than I’ve given. Tahliyah is such a special little girl.

  2. Karen.
    What a beautiful young lady Tahliyah is and what a kind and caring soul you are. It is a privilege to be a part of the Story Art family. I look forward to playing an active role in The Hope Project. The finished image that you have presented to the family is simply inspirational and the story is touching.

    Kindest regards

  3. Wow Karen, you are really so talented, generous and kind. The image is beautiful and expresses freedom and the joy with it so well. I am in complete awe of you and this piece.
    Everything in our reality today began as a dream. This image and project, no doubt, will bring many more dreams to life. You first saw the answer in your children, who inspired Story Art.
    It’s love of course. That’s all we need to make it happen. A very humbling message. Thank you Karen.

  4. Karen, this is the most wonderful gift you could give this lovely family. It is amazingly beautiful and heartfelt. Your talent is inspirational.

  5. What a beautiful breathtaking story…. i know jac and miss T and this story makes my heart ache. Such a beautiful work of art for a beautiful family ?

  6. What a wonderful gift for this beautiful young girl. Her smile lights up every frame. I know her parents and family will cherish the freedom and joy of your so personalized artwork for them. 🙂

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