Elephants in Hanover Square
London's Elephant Parade By Burlington Bertie
ny visitor to Central London during June cannot fail miss the colourful pachydermatous herd that have taken over many of our streets, arcades, squares and parks. This life size elephantine visitation is the idea of the Charity Elephant Family, which has introduced 258 brightly painted sculptures to the West End in an open air exhibition highlighting the plight of the Asian elephant, now facing extinction due to habitat loss. Each life sized baby elephant has been brightly decorated, (and sometimes bejeweled), by a different artist, personality or organisation.
You will come across a single sculpture or two in your walks around central London (Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, Southbank, Carnaby Street, Marble Arch, Green Park, Hyde Park, St James's Park, Notting Hill Gate, Kensington High Street, Westfield, Selfridges, Royal Chelsea Hospital, The Natural History Museum, The Royal Exchange and Greenwich). You will see them at their best however in Green Park, (where a herd is parading down from Piccadilly to Buckingham Palace). Alternatively visit Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, on 25, 26 and 28 June to see the entire herd. Entry is free on those dates, so this is a good time to visit this historic site.
If you have room in your luggage to take home with you a life-sized heffalump to decorate your living room or yard as a souvenir of your London visit, you can bid for one online at Elephant Parade, buy a miniature at Selfridges in Oxford Street, or wait to snap one up for a gold-plated song at the star-studded Grand Elephant Auction on 3 July, where you may find yourself bidding against patrons like Goldie Horne Joanna Lumley, Jack Vettriano, Diane von Furstenburg, Princess Michael of Kent or one of the Rothschild clan. If you can't afford an estimated auction price of £5000 or more, enjoy their colourful presence on London's streets while you can and have your photo taken beside one - as I did!
Burlington Bertie and Heffalump pet. Photos courtesy of Ian MacWatt.