Friday, July 16, 2010

Elephants on Parade

During my long and fairly uneventful absence from the world of blogging, I became obsessed with the Elephants on Parade.

If you aren't in London or walk around the city with your eyes closed, you might not know about the Elephants on Parade, so I'll explain.
London's streets were taken over for a few weeks by herds of colourful elephants, decorated by designers, artists and other such people. The elephants were sponsored or bought by companies with some elephants sold at auction for thousands of pounds, with the money going to help protect Asian elephants whose numbers are dwindling.
The now-husband and I spent a lovely Saturday tracking down the elephants on a route that started at Paddington and finished on the Strand, spotting around 70 elephants as we went. We spent another morning viewing herds of the elephants when they were gathered together at the Royal Chelsea Hospital and the Westfield Centre. I like elephants and we did our bit for the cause by buying a minature one (the now-husband was keen to put in a bid for a full-sized one, thinking it would be a novel way of spending the money we received as wedding gifts, but my money sense won out).
But more than the charitable element, I loved the way that such a diverse range of people were just as smitten with the elephants are we were. The sheer delight of people chancing upon an elephant around a quiet corner. The freedom for children to clamber all over them as they wished. This is what public art should be. Not some bronze memorial to some military person whose significance has long since been forgotten. But something that people can enjoy and interact with in their own way.

The elephants have gone now from London and our streets look sadder without them.


Herman said...

We had a similar stunt in Ghent, Belgium, a few years ago with cows. Not that cows are rare or in danger ;-) But it was to support children's hospitals or something like that.
Two years ago we saw pigs, also decorated, in Bath. It is indeed a charming way to collect money and it helps get cities more lovely.

SandDancer said...

We had cows a few years ago too although I can't remember what they were for. Amsterdam has already had the elephants and they are going to other European cities over the next year or so.