The staff at Wildlife SOS spent their weekend surrounded by elephants a little different from the ones we are used to. More than sixty exquisite fibre glass elephants were on display at the Le Meridian Hotel, hand-painted by some of India’s finest artists, as part of a fundraiser for the wonderful animals in our care.
The elephants started out as pristine white sculptures, covered in bubble-wrap and travelling across the country to the homes of some of the biggest names in the Indian art scene. They were then reunited at the Art Alive Gallery that had graciously offered to partner with Wildlife SOS for the event. They looked completely different on their return, each a unique piece of stunning artwork representative of the creative genius to whom it had served as an easel. The elephants were ready to be sold to their new homes, with a portion of all proceeds going to support Wildlife SOS’ work with elephants.
On Saturday, the elephants were transported to the hotel and each found its place on a display table under the soft light of the exhibit hall. As the inauguration began, the room filled with people, milling around and taking in the art around them. Two massive life-size elephants painted by Paresh Maity welcomed visitors as they entered the hall, where the simple yet elegant style of Riyas Komu sat across the vibrant colours of Jogen Chowdhury. The striking traditional art of Gond tribal artists like Narmada Tekam, Bhajju and Mayank Shyam, Durga Bai and Venkat reflected the forests of their state of Madhya Pradesh, and seemed to belong perfectly on the elephant sculptures. The glitter of Kanchen Chander, the traditional style of Chhotu Lal, the intricate detail of Alpana Ahuja and the vibrant colours of Binoy Varghese sat alongside the likes of Thota Vaikuntam, Manu Parekh, Sharmi Chowdhury, Nayanaa Kanodia, Yusuf Arakkal and Shipra Bhattacharya and 46 other artists, each with his or her own unique style and beautiful work of art.
Even Bollywood bigwigs Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar spared some time and lent their creativity to the cause and painted elephants to be sold. Our resident artist elephants, Phoolkali, Peanut and Wally found themselves represented as well, as the exquisite ‘Padhchinh’ series of elephant footprint art, created through the collaboration of artist Alpana Ahuja and our rescued elephants, adorned the walls of the gallery.
The exhibition of the art ran on for another two days, and the bold red marks on the nametags along the artwork increased steadily as pieces sold to excited buyers and art enthusiasts, all of whom were more than happy to take home one of these amazing pieces in support of Wildlife SOS’ elephant rescues and their care. Hon’ Minister Smt. Maneka Gandhi, known for her dedicated work towards animal welfare in India, graced us with her presence and selflessly contributed to making the event a success.
Everyone at Wildlife SOS is immensely grateful to the team at People For Animals, Art Alive Gallery and Le Meridian Hotel for all their help and unwavering support that made this event the success it was, and will go a long way in saving India’s majestic pachyderms.