Why the Obsession with Elephants?

by Adrian Harvey

Well, in our case it’s obvious why we are called Elephants don’t forget, because it really is true that elephants really don’t forget. So naturally we notice all things elephantine. But have you considered just how many elephant images and sculptures surround us? Obviously my “Nelly Dar” (sort of like a radar…!) is highly tuned and I find myself spotting elephant images and sculpture in the most unlikely places. When I do spot an interesting elephant I always take a photo and then check out why it was there and if there was any relevant history.

Check out this image of a beautiful elephant I noticed when I visited Cardiff last weekend. This one is located outside a bar called Salt http://www.mermaidquay.co.uk/venues/salt/. I have no idea why an elephant graces the supporting column of the 1st storey of these modern buildings and can’t find any Wiki references? So if you know the answer to this particular one please drop me a line and let me know.

Salt pub elephant

In fact, perhaps you could help me with something. We are compiling a reference guide to elephant art in the UK. I kid you not! Right now we have only a small number of contributors – namely the herd at Elephants don’t forget. So it’s pretty slow going. I am hoping that you and your network might join my elephant spotting herd and supply me with images of elephants you spot on your travels.

In particular, I am interested in elephants with stories, like the elephant sculpture at Waterloo station. There are some interesting theories as to why an elephant sculpture was commissioned for Waterloo station.

World renown artist Kendra Haste https://denadadesign.com/kendra-haste-wire-wildlife-sculptures/

created this sculpture from wire. It went on display in 1999 at the opening of the Jubilee Line extension.

Picture1

There are some interesting theories circulating about ‘why an elephant’? I mean, it could have been random but then there might just be a reason. The most logical is probably that many years ago the site was home to what is purported to be the first circus, namely Astley Amphitheatre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astley%27s_Amphitheatre. But that still doesn’t explain why an elephants was chosen as many exotic animals were displayed here in years gone by.

One reasonable contender was that it was close in proximity to the Elephant & Castle, a famous road junction now and back in the late 1700’s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_and_Castle

Perhaps though may favourite explanation is one that claims it was put there to commemorate the failing original site of the Eurostar which quickly became a ‘white elephant’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterloo_International_railway_station. I am certain this is not true but it made me laugh at others ingenuity and sense of humour.

Send your elephant photos (no trouser elephants please!), location and any backstory and I will credit you in our book …. adrian@elephantsdontforget.com