Why would celebrities and artists take time out to hand paint life-sized art elephants? Read about the Elephant Parade, and how those who’ve pledged support walk the talk in their respective industries.
Words: Beverly Rodrigues Images: ELEPHANT PARADE®
In 2006, Marc and Mike Spits visited Soraida Salwala (founder of Friends of the Asian Elephant) at the world’s first ever elephant hospital in Thailand. There, they met Mosha, an Asian elephant calf who’d sustained severe injuries from stepping on a landmine.
Moved by the plight of Asian elephants like Mosha and the incredible work Salwala was doing to protect injured and displaced elephants, the Spits created a sustainable avenue to support the cause.
The father-son duo envisioned an Elephant Parade that would generate buzz and benefit not only elephants, but art lovers, sponsors and buyers too. Commissioning two Thai artists who specialised in paper-maché work, they created baby elephant prototypes. Later, artists and celebrities were recruited to hand paint and decorate fiberglass elephants as a pledge of support.
In 2007, the first ever Elephant Parade was launched in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The public simply fell in love with the 50 colourful and quirky elephants scattered citywide. The event raised €248,500 in support of various elephant-related projects throughout Asia.
Since its inception, the Elephant Parade has visited Antwerp, Belgium and Amsterdam and Emmen, the Netherlands, as well as London where the event raised a whopping €4, 900,000!
Today, the Elephant Parade is the world’s largest open air art exhibition devoted to saving the Asian elephant. This month, the parade visits its first ever Asian destination: Singapore.
Local and international artists and celebrities have been hard at work putting brush to trunk. On November 11, 150 beautiful baby pachyderms will appear at hotspots throughout the city, and remain there for two months before being auctioned off by Sotheby’s in January 2012.
Funds raised will be channeled towards The Asian Elephant Foundation www.theasianelephantfoundation.org and the conservation fund of Wildlife Reserves Singapore www.wrs.com.sg
Head Chef of FiftyThree, Singapore
I was inspired by a piece of rusty iron. The idea was to create rust and then let nature take its course in creating a design. Jonathan (the artist I’m collaborating with) and I decided to create a tearing elephant. The tear is made from crushed pearls, an ingredient that we use in FiftyThree. The message is whether nature can be left on its own to survive amidst the concrete jungles that have taken over their environment.
The plight of the elephant is not as well known as it should be. We should be doing much more to save them from extinction.
WALKING THE TALK
At FiftyThree, we ensure that the chickens, pigs, cattle and sheep we cook are raised in the happiest of circumstances and have received the highest level of care possible. We serve only line-caught fish, not fish that has been harvested to the edge of extinction. We also try to buy local to reduce our food miles.
Regional TV Personality and Founder of GreenKampong.com
The Asian Elephant is a keystone species, and its well-being is crucial to maintaining balance in the eco-system. Protecting this species means protecting its habitat and the lives of many other endangered species as well.
I’ve collaborated with two talented individuals: English artist Ann Healy and one of Indonesia’s top fashion designers and masters of batik revival, Edward Hutabarat. We’ve taken Hutabarat’s beautiful black and white batik designs and translated them into a modern work reflecting my mixed cultural background.
WALKING THE TALK
GreenKampong started as a platform to share information on green technologies that I was sourcing for the Eco Home I was building for my family. It quickly evolved into what it is today, encompassing food, business, design, technology etc. Being ‘green’ does not mean spending a lot of money. We just need to cut back on consumption and move to a plant-based diet as much as possible.
A need for a place on this planet that is not in peril.