This afternoon I went on my final ‘elephant spotting trip’: the Elephant Parade’s viewing days are almost at an end, when all 250+ members of the happy herd were gathered together for the public to see before the auction takes place on 3rd July. The herd had been divided into two, the majority on show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea were the “outdoor elephants” (whose decorative finishes were weatherproof) while the Westfields mall hosted the (I think 18) “indoor elephants”, whose finishes were less likely to withstand the vagaries of the British summertime climate.
I came away feeling exhausted and exhilarated, and more than a little sad that these beautiful works of art are no longer to be found in all sorts of unexpected corners of London.
Seeing the Chelsea herd was a particularly memorable experience, over 230 beautiful artistic works of colour and creativity, whimsy and social conscience in one place is something I don’t think I’ll forget for a very long time.
One ellie in particular I found both hard-hitting and haunting, named Phoolan, had been treated by the artists Carrie Reichardt and Nick Reynolds to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant by showing how it is persecuted for its ivory, blown up by landmines and exploited by humans, to the point where this beautiful creature is now an endangered species. There are two short but fascinating YouTube vids about the making of Phoolan here and here.
More photos to follow; meanwhile my blog page of photos of the 70 ellies I saw “in the wild” during May and June is here.
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