I was wandering around London, as I am prone to do, in May of 2010 when I stumbled across a large decorated elephant sculpture. Naturally my curiosity was piqued and I discovered that it was one of 250+ such elephants that had sprung up all over London.
Well, I’d seen one of them so that could only mean one thing – I’d have to see the rest! So followed an enjoyable couple of months exploring familiar and not so familiar parts of the capital hunting them down. I quickly learned that such an undertaking isn’t always straightforward, there are still some people who delight in damaging beautiful objects so I would occasionally find a sculpture away for repair. There were also the added complication that some of the sculptures were sited indoors, so it was a case of making sure you got there during opening hours, particularly annoying for those that didn’t open at weekends. There was the one in the entrance hall of a Soho women’s refuge who really didn’t want to let people in, but I somehow managed to blag my way in for a quick photo.
And then there was Gerald. Elephant number 135. Originally taking his place on the streets until some people objected, pointing out that the leaves that adorned him were actually quite intimate pictures of ladies cut from magazines. He went off in to exile, but after a lot of lobbying from those of us that were determined to see them all the charity agreed to hold a couple of open afternoons at the campaign headquarters where we permitted to finally meet Gerald.
Whilst I was doing all of this I discovered that it wasn’t a one off occurrence, that in fact there were many such sculpture trails featuring a range of, mostly animal, themes. A new hobby had been born!