Last month I wrote two pieces about the Elephant Parade, an event that took place 10 years ago here in London. As I wrote in the second of those pieces: “Streets, parks, squares and indoor spaces were populated by life-size models of baby elephants, painted by a variety of artists. It captured our imagination, and I took photographs of all 250+ elephants. Most of these 1500 photos also featured one or both of my children”. That piece contained a link to the earlier post, and reflections about online photo albums.
In the last five years I have caught sight of just two of those painted baby elephants “in the wild”. For a while the elephant named Ella May (or LMA) was still at large in the West End, halfway up St Christopher’s Place. I took some photos of her with my daughter (who was 10 at the time) in December 2016. The following month I went back to the same spot with my son to take more pictures, but Ella May was gone. At the end of this piece there are two photos of her over six years apart. One of them shows my son and daughter (aged five and three respectively) climbing on the plinth that the statute stood on. The other shows my daughter in December 2016. As usual the children’s faces are deliberately obscured. In the case of the 2016 photo this has been done with the rather unsubtle addition of a red circle.
More recently I have discovered that there is a baby elephant much closer to home, in the courtyard of a restaurant on Chiswick High Road. I’m not sure which model it is, but here’s a photo of my son standing beside it earlier this week. I have deliberately cropped the picture so that you can’t see his face. It reminds me of some of my graduation photos, which achieved the same effect unintentionally. We were much less experienced with cameras back then.
Unnamed elephant July 2020, Villa Geggiano, 66-68 Chiswick High Road W4 1SY
Ella May June 2010, Baker Street London W1
Ella May December 2016, St Christopher’s Place London W1