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Article: Ele-Nouveau Deux by Varun Bahl is amongst the Top 3 Elephants sold at the Elephant Parade auction

Ele-Nouveau Deux by Varun Bahl is amongst the Top 3 Elephants sold at the Elephant Parade auction

For two months in the summer of 2010, the city of London was gripped by elephant fever as spectacular baby elephant sculptures suddenly appeared near landmarks and in various neighbourhoods. One, designed by Benjamin Shine, was a representation of London’s famous black taxi cabs, with headlights for eyes and the taxi roof topper fashioned into a hat.

In September last year, artists from the Netherlands lit up the town of Laren with equally delightful sculptures — one, titled ‘Basta’ by Jean Marc des Bouvrie-Aaftink showed a bright blue sedan groaning under the of a happy gold elephant. Now, it’s India’s turn to host Elephant Parade, a global social enterprise that aims at creating awareness and raising funds to secure the future of the Asian elephant. The species faces extinction as a result of rampant poaching and habitat destruction — less than 40,000 remain worldwide according a 2017 census.

Last year, the social enterprise joined hands with Elephant Family, a charity that was founded under the patronage of the Rajmata of Jaipur by adventurer and travel writer Mark Shand, the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall. This year, as part of the celebrations of the UK-India Year of Culture, the group has roped in Indian artists to create 101 eles for an open-air art display that was unveiled in Jaipur in November. This fibreglass herd is all set to travel to Mumbai next.

“In February, the sculptures will be positioned at key locations across Mumbai for four weeks,” says Ruth Ganesh, CEO, Elephant Family. Exhibition curator, Farah Siddiqui, tells us these have been created by noted artists from various design streams —“fine arts, folk and street art, fashion and architecture. There’s also an elephant by Christian Louboutin, an avid indophile,” she says.

Siddiqui believes the Indian parade will be distinguished by  its variety of traditional arts.  Their aim, adds Ganesh, “is to inspire people to engage with  the conservation of this magnificent species.  The priceless, one of-a-kind artworks will be sold following the exhibition to bring in funds  for the cause.”
Varun Bahl shares, "I wanted to make ‘Ele-Nouveau’ as lifelike and soulful  as possible, hence the striking and realistic detailing. The birds are all cockatoos — they represent elements  of the nouveau period, and they have deliberately been painted hanging upside down keeping in mind their playful personalities."