Ah, my elephant. This was a learning piece, back in 2001, my first exploration into creating a large animal sculpture. I knew that I didn’t want to simply make a copper replica of an elephant; I wanted to show those parts of the animal that really matter, the parts that define him. Hence, the brooding irresistible power of the brow; the infinite possibilities of the trunk, the brutal prongs of tusks; but also the bulk, the high spine-ridged back like an outhouse roof. The absurd fly-swish tail, which is bigger than you might think. The enormous ears. Especially, the wonderful sandbag feet, bearing all that weight aloft, and framed by such toenails. How can anyone not love an elephant’s toenails?
What I did NOT understand at this time was the need for structural strength sufficient to support the rest of the sculpture as it ages and the copper softens. He was not very strong. I have recently dismantled the whole sculpture and rebuilt it on a new frame, using steel within the copper tube. It looks identical to this picture except that I have cleaned the tusks bright, and then lacquered them to retain that contrasting colour.
His first outing was at the Bluewater ‘Under the Rainbow’ exhibition, where he and my elephant calf headlined the show.
200cm long, 170cm tall; £12,550.