Last Updated on 30. March 2021

Have you wonderered why there has been a herd of elephants at Old Spitalfields Market since the beginning of 2021? Who created it and what is the story behind each sculpture? In the post, we take a closer look at the work of artist duo Gillie and Marc.

The elephants of Old Spitalfields Market

The martriarch with the 20 elephant cubs stood at Marble Arch for a year from December 2019 and moved to Old Spitalfields Market in early 2021. There, the elephants are spread out in front of and inside the market, raising awareness of the fate of the animals in Africa. Sadly, the reason for the sculpture collection is not a positive one. Every little elephant has become an orphan. They all live in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Africa. Caretakers replaye their mothers, they stay with the baby elephants cubs 24 hours a day.

The fate of the elephants

Next to each elephant is a plaque that shares more info about their life and fate. Where was the elephant found? How old was it when it was rescued? What happened to the family?
Ambo, for example, fell into a water hole when he was three months old and was then abandoned by his herd.
Mbegu was separated from her herd when it was attacked by the local community. Afterwards, she was beaten by the attackers.
The baby elephants, most of them only a few months old, would not have survived if the teams of  the Sheldrick Wildlife Fund had not rescued them.

Herd of Hope

It is more important than ever to save the elephants. How amazing that at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust they have found a safe place to stay and grow up. If you would like to support the Trust’s work with a donation, you will find small QR codes on the plaques.
Personally, I have adopted an elephant for over 15 years. My Wendy is now a mother herself and has proudly brought her cub to the Trust staff to present to them.
The herd of hope is not only modern and beautiful art at Old Spitalfields Market, it also aims to draw attention to the fate of the grey giants and raise funds to ensure their continued protection.

For how long will the herd stay?

I haven’t found any specific detail on this, but if they are to stay for a year (as they did at Marble Arch), they would be around throughout 2021.

The artists behind the sculptures

Gillie and Marc have created these amazing sculptures. The New York artists have been working together for almost 30 years, sharing their love for each other in colourful prints and sculptures. One of their trademarks is “Rabbitwoman & Dogman”. There are currently two sculptures of them at Old Spitalfields Market. While “Dogman & Rabbitwoman with coffee” have been here for some time, Rabbitwoman & Dogman in a Vespa is a new work. “Together forever on wheels” aims to invite people to explore the world and go on adventures.

Video of the elephant herd

If you’re not local and may not be able to fly this year, check out the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website for a short video of all the elephants and their location in front of and inside the market.
Since I can’t travel myself either, I asked my local photographer to take the photos for me. Thank you for that, Brigitta from Nux Photography.
What is your impression of the elephants? Have you already seen them? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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