On December 4th a giant collection of sculptures is coming to Marble Arch! A series of 21 different sized elephants will placed in the square and the traffic islands by the famous arch. The work is known as The Orphans Sculpture, or alternatively, the Elephants of Tomorrow, and its billed as the largest wildlife sculpture of its kind in the world. The Sheldrick Trust, the charity commissioning the work says ‘We invite the good people of London and visitors to the city to meet, and fall in love with, the Elephants of Tomorrow in Marble Arch throughout 2020.’
The sculptures depicts elephants that have been affected by environmental bight or orphaned by poachers. It is said the numbers of elephants living in the world has decreased alarmingly and by 2040 it is thought there will be none left in the wild. Its not to say there wont be any left. There will be, it will be just those within Africa’s vast national parks (such as Mount Kenya and Nairobi National Parks) where the elephant are at least stewarded and looked after very well by dedicated staff and park rangers, and there is as much defence as possible against any sort of slight, whether its drought, gaming or even poachers, that might come to cause the elephants harm.
Early representation of the Elephants sculpture from April 2019. Source: Twitter
The large 21 sculpture piece commissioned by the Sheldrick Trust and the creators of the different piece are Gillie and Marc, renowed sculpturists and artists who hail from Australia, and whose Dogman and Rabbit Woman sculptures in London’s Spitalfields (and the various other similar works in other locations) have been famous the world over.
Artists Gillie & Marc with one of the sculptures that will be coming to London. Source: Youtube
Gillie and Marc’s involvement in this work is all the more important since Gillie grew up in Africa, ‘watching an elephant being killed before my eyes. I vowed to do everything in my power to never let that happen again.’ Marc spent time in Tanzania studying chimps and said ‘If we weren’t artists we would be running a conservation reserve in Africa.’ What their work does is it enables them to do both, that is to be artists and help wildlife conservation too. They both regularly travel to Africa to support the hard work being done to save the continent’s endangered species. (Quotes from New York Times.)
The Sheldrick Trust are a long established charity based in Africa which does a lot of work to protect elephants and it adopts many that are orphaned in one way or another. The charity has many dedicated people in Africa who work to ensure its elephants are safe and well looked after. Other endangered species such as rhinos are cared for too, however elephants are the charity’s main focus, and its why they are doing this commission in London.
Publicity for the unveiling on 4th December. Source: Love the Last
It appears most of the 21 sculptures to be installed will be placed within the green to the west side of Marble Arch (by the fountains) however a small group of five larger sculptures will be sited in front of the arch itself. Each sculpture will have a plaque detailing the work and which of the elephants in the Sheldrick Trust’ care it represents.
One of the sculptures in Australia, ready to be flown to London. Source: Facebook
The aim is to have this sculpture on exhibit for one whole year. Its a fun sculptures no doubt and the children will love it just as adults too. No doubt people will take photographs and numerous selfies, but the main aim of the work will of course be to educate people about the plight of Africa’s elephants – and there will be information panels explaining what it is all about.
From Kenya to the heart of London, our sculpture ‘herd’ is coming to London. Meet the 21 life-size bronze elephants and get to know the real-life orphans that have inspired them. Each sculpture includes the name of the orphan they symbolise and an interactive information board, enabling you to read the unique rescue story of each elephant and directly support their rehabilitation journey. Source: Sheldrick Trust
Tagwa, one of the orphaned elephants (who will be represented by a sculpture in Marble Arch) with her rangers at the Voi Reintegration Unit, one of three locations based within protected conservation areas in Kenya. Source: Twitter
Youtube video about the elephants, their plight and the need for their care, and the launch of the new sculpture.
The hashtag #elephantsoftomorrow is on Twitter.
The commission is part of the Westminster Council Sculpture scheme and is no doubt its biggest work to date.