This week London-based artists Carrie Reichardt aka the Baroness and Nick Reynolds (son of the Great Train robber Bruce) will highlight the plight of the endangered Asian elephant with a painstakingly crafted, controversial mosaic-adorned work in the city’s biggest ever public art event.
The unique elephant will be among 250 life-size models designed by an assortment of established and emerging talent from the art and design world, to be paraded through the capital. The event is organised by Elephant Family, a charity that will auction off the elephants to raise money for the protection of the animal.
“Our elephant ‘Phoolan’ will be the only one in the parade to have a hide and ceremonial coverings made entirely of mosaic tiles,” Carrie Reichardt says. “Yet her looks aren’t only skin deep. The tiled side of Phoolan shows her beauty and the glamorous trappings that adorn elephants at public festivals, but her dark side reveals a handcrafted skeleton with bones broken by landmines and human cruelty, which, together, tell of the exploitation and neglect that many Asian elephants suffer every day of their lives.”
With Phoolan, Reichardt and Reynolds also aimed to create a showpiece for the renaissance of the Craftivist movement in the UK – the marrying of craft with activism – designing a piece that was not only beautifully decorative but also had meaning.
“We want to shock the audience to have them confront the realities faced by Asian elephants,” Reichardt added. “But the work isn’t without humour. If you look at its behind, you’ll find three strategically placed babies’ heads with a plaque that reads ‘Turner Prize Reject’ [a slogan Reichardt often uses in her work]. Beneath that is elephant dung, with another plaque embedded with the words ‘Turner Prize Winner’.”
Phoolan is on display outside the Natural History Museum from May 4th until June 23rd.
Check out an interview UKAdapta did with Carrie Reichardt for their May Update: it makes for such an interesting read! These Craftivists have such great tales to tell!