Why Has a Herd of Elephants Appeared in Chelsea?
Photography: Tucker Images
A herd of life-sized handcrafted elephants have appeared in Chelsea. They look absolutely magnificent, but why are they there?
The elephants arrived on Monday 17 May to highlight the increasing overlap between the human and animal world – an overlap suspected to have sparked a global pandemic that, in turn, has seen deer grazing on an east London housing estate and Kashmiri goats venture into Llandudno.
CoExistence, a new environmental art campaign from wildlife charity Elephant Family, aims to tackle this perceived dichotomy by raising funds for conservation projects that help people and wildlife to live peacefully alongside each other.
The herd – which stomped across The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace on Saturday 15 May, supported by celebrity ambassadors Donna Air, Amy Jackson and Joanna Lumley – will make its way around the globe to raise awareness of overpopulation, the effect of human encroachment on wild spaces and ways we can all coexist.
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Handcrafted using a natural plant material Lantana camara by artisans from the Adavasi tribal communities, who live in close proximity to wild elephants, the magnificent sculptures are even up for sale to help raise money for Elephant Family, starting at £6,000 for a calf.
Projects made possible by CoExistence include wildlife corridors, which enable safe movement for animals and people, early warning systems to help animals and people to share the same space, and the protection of tribal livelihoods.
‘The herd has arrived at the time of a great pause, when our human footprint on the wild world has lessened and wildlife everywhere has flourished’
Lumley, a long-standing ambassador of Elephant Family, said at the launch of the project on The Mall: ‘The elephants crossing London’s Mall are as mighty as they are meaningful, and I am proud to represent this campaign.
‘The herd has arrived at the time of a great pause, when our human footprint on the wild world has lessened and wildlife everywhere has flourished.
‘These elephants carry with them inspiring stories of coexistence and we have much to learn from them.’
The wandering herd (there are 100 in total) can be spotted in Chelsea from 17 May-6 June and in Green Park, St James’s Park & Berkeley Square from 14 June-23 July, with a supporting exhibition, CoExistence by George Butler, at Sladmore Contemporary in Mayfair from 21 June-23 July.
Fifty of the spectacular elephants will ‘roam’ the streets of Chelsea, taking up residence on the King’s Road (Royal Avenue junction), Duke of York Square, Pavilion Road and Sloane Street (Cadogan Place North Garden).
The arrival of the CoExistence Herd kicks off an extensive programme of cultural events across Chelsea this summer, with public art, pedestrianised streets, alfresco dining and new retailers as COVID restrictions continue to ease.
‘The arrival of the CoExistence Herd kicks off an extensive programme of cultural events across Chelsea this summer’
Kensington & Chelsea’s Inaugural Summer Festival, running from 21 June-31 September and spearheaded by the team behind the established Kensington + Chelsea Art Week and Kensington & Chelsea Council.
Kensington + Chelsea Art Week, running 24 June-4 July, will see public art take over the area, featuring the likes of poetic neon installations from British contemporary multidisciplinary artist Lauren Baker inspired by Chelsea icons like Vivienne Westwood and Oscar Wilde.
Other events include London Fashion Week on King’s Road, with a host of events and shopping offers across the neighbourhood from 12-14 June; Strawberries and Screen on Duke of York Square’s running track, where visitors can watch the Wimbledon finals on the big screen; the return of Chelsea in Bloom, London’s largest free art flower festival, in September; and Artisan Chelsea during London Craft Week in early October.
Find out more at dukeofyorksquare.com/herd-the-news