By Amber Bard on
London has long been bemoaned for its rainy days and cloudy skies, but things are brightening up in the city. Over 250 splashily painted, life-sized statues of baby elephants have been scattered throughout parks and public spaces, including ones designed by Diane von Furstenberg and Paul Smith.
The exhibit aims to highlight the plight of the endangered Asian elephant, and will culminate in an auction to benefit over 20 different conservation charities.
The outdoor art show – the largest in London’s history – is the product of Elephant Family, a group that works to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant. The organization hopes that the Elephant Parade will bring attention to the fact that over the last century, the Asian elephant population has decreased by 90%. The encroachment of humans as well as the poaching of ivory mean Asian elephants could be extinct within 30 years.
Elephant Parade unites the work of artists as diverse as fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger (who gave his elephant a Mohawk made of grass) and jewelry designer Sabine Roemer (who graced hers with a 700-carat emerald). One of the most popular statues is “Elephant Taxi,” designed by artist Benjamin Shine. The elephant is painted a glossy black in a nod to traditional London cabs, and has two solar-powered headlights for eyes beneath a “taxi” sign for a hat. Round-the-clock guards have been posted to keep watch over the elephant in its home near the Royal Exchange.
From June 18, the life-sized statues will be auctioned to raise money for conservation charities. But if you don’t have the cash (or the space) to grab one, don’t worry. Miniature versions are being sold at shops throughout London and online here. The fantastically decorated figurines make excellent souvenirs of London, giving a whole new meaning to Elephant and Castle.
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