This is my latest project: to build a life-size sculpture of an elephant reaching upwards in search of their beloved acacia albida pods. As the winter months draw to a close, only a few pods are left on the trees and there is a scramble to reach the last pods. Naturally, the biggest and tallest elephants can reach the highest pods and in the process of stretching themselves up, they put an extraordinary amount of strain on their back knees. I recently saw this happening in the Mana Pools Game Reserve in Zimbabwe close up (see photograph) and it was an awe-inspiring sight. I knew then what I wanted to do was to make a life-size sculpture of this truly extraordinary event.
I had previously made a sculpture of this amazing sight which stands 75 cms high. It of course serves as a brilliant maquette for the larger piece. It would be built here at my studio in Suffolk and molds would be taken from it for a full cast to be made at a bronze foundry.
Superimposed images: The image of the smaller bronze superimposed onto an image of Stowe School helps to give an idea of how amazing this piece would look in similar circumstances. It would reach 8 - 9 metres into the sky - a very powerful image. The second image of the piece mounted on a small hill which provides a real sense of what a life-size version would look like in such a visual position. This sculpture could be a symbol of participation in the stamping out of the illegal trade in endangered species. The statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro and the ‘Angel of the North’ outside Newcastle in the UK are two pieces of sculpture that are mounted on high points and as a consequence are impressive and have become iconic. They cannot fail to impress upon those who see them something of the majesty of life, our spirituality and the world in which we live.
Both of the sculptures described above have arms/ wings outstretched in a form of embrace. An elephant reaching upwards into the sky with its trunk could be symbolised as a search for compassion, reaching towards God and the Universe in a plea for help and representing all the creatures of the world that remain so brutally treated by mankind.
Elephant poaching is rampant and recently National Geographic published an article stating that 100,000 elephants have been killed by poachers in the last three years. That figure broken down equates to 91 elephants a day!!! That is simply staggering. If ISIS was killing an average of 91 people a day, how would we respond? Central Africa has now lost 64% of its elephants in a decade. 64%! its almost unimaginable. The report was written for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The building and marketing of this elephant could be used as a major publicity exercise in the effort to raise funds to combat this appalling practice. I am currently working out how this can be of assistance to CITES and the other large charities that do so much to look after the elephant population.
A year ago, Prince William gave a speech at the World Bank about the trade in Ivory, Rhino horn and other endangered species which was watched by organisations representing 120 different countries, so it is hoped that it has provided some real understanding of the problem and that their presence suggests that it is now being officially recognised across the world as a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately.
The recent Giants Club Summit in Kenya has been extraordinarily successful in raising millions of dollars towards the protection of elephants massive. Evgeny Lebedev, patron of the Giants Club and proprietor of both the 'Evening Standard' and the 'Independent' in the UK has been the main driving force behind this summit and is to be congratulated for the extraordinary efforts he is going to to make this all happen.
I am looking for a buyer - a person or an organisation or a nation which can, like me, see how truly extraordinary such a piece would be and the impact it could have in assisting in the fight against ivory poaching. Contact me if you wish to discuss this project further.