If you are in Central London in May or June and you find you are face-to-face with a life-size adolescent elephant, you are not be hallucinating. You will simply have stumbled into the path of the 2010 London Elephant Parade. Billed as the capital's largest public art exhibition, 250 brilliantly embellished elephant sculptures, 1.5 meters in height (the size of an adolescent elephant) and each individually decorated by artists, designers and celebrities, will suddenly grace the streets of central London early on May Day morning and remain on display until 21 June.
The London Elephant Parade has been organised by the Elephant Family, a charity set up by Mark Shand to draw attention to the plight of Asian elephants in the wild, aiming to raise in excess of £1 million towards the £10 million goal which is needed to safeguard their future by purchasing a tract of land in India that is used as a vital thoroughfare by the elephant population.
Each elephant in the Parade has been sponsored by an individual or company keen to lend its support - including Abercrombie & Kent. Our elephant, a female, is made entirely from scrap metal, and has been created by Luka Boonkerd Kaewdee, a sculptor based in Chiang Mai. The only metal elephant in The Parade, she will be on display at Hyde Park Corner. Other elephant exhibits have been created by up-and-coming artists as well as established, even iconic, designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Sir Terrence Conran, Lulu Guinness, John Rocha and Sir Paul Smith.
The elephants can be seen in parks, on street corners, at famous landmarks and tourist attractions throughout London, adding a new dimension to the capital that will delight adults and children alike. However, on 21 June they will suddenly vanish overnight, symbolising the threat of extinction that hovers over these glorious beasts.
They will reappear for the last time on 23 June, in regimented rows in the gardens of the Royal Chelsea Hospital, where they can be seen together over the following week until 29 June when they disappear for the last time. The Parade culminates on 30 June with a grand auction of the elephants by Sotheby's at a black-tie event that will be attended by the glitterati of London. A&K has also donated a superb 10 day trip to Northern Thailand, in conjunction with Taj Hotels and Resorts, which includes mahout training and painting with elephants, which will be raffled on the night to raise additional funds for this extremely worthwhile cause.
The same Northern Thailand itinerary can be viewed by clicking here.
Joanne Swinton dealt with us and our holiday with endless good humour and patience. Her suggestions were perfect and we all had a magical time. She really knew her "stuff". She even organised a car and driver for our first full day in Dar es Salaam which was a kindness beyond any duty. She arranged for our unaccompanied children to be chaperoned through all the airports, and for my husband and me to be taken care of too. There are not words enough to express her professionalism and forethought and our appreciation of them.
- BM, Inverness
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