If you have seen a herd of brightly decorated Asian Elephants this year around the UK, it is more than likely to have been part of the Elephant Parade – The National Tour. The Elephant Parade was founded by father and son team, Marc and Mike Spits after Marc had met baby elephant Mosha. Mosha had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine and Marc and Mike decided that rather than just donating money to the Asian Elephant Foundation, they would organise an event to raise money, and awareness, of the highly endangered Asian Elephant and Elephant Parade was born.
We went along to the last venue of the Elephant Parade in Bromley and were lucky enough to be able to interview Lydia Tombs who has been working with the event since the beginning of the year.
Q: Lydia, can you could tell us a little about the Elephant Parade – The National Tour?
A: The event is run by the Elephant Parade, founded by father and son, Michael and Marc Spits and has returned to the UK for a national tour that started on 16th July 2013 and finishes here in Bromley at the end of July 2014. The Elephant Parade travels all over the world with a new set of beautiful elephants created by artists and celebrities and each event supports the work of the Asian Elephant Foundation which is working hard to protect the remaining 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the world.
Q: Could you tell us about your involvement with the event – do you have a favourite elephant from the Elephant Parade?
A: I came on board in January 2014 when the tour came to visit Nottingham for five weeks and I am now here in Bromley working on the last venue of the UK tour. My favourite elephant changes daily – I would say today’s favourite is either Fruit Baby (from the Antwerp 2008 tour) available in the shop – or from The National Tour larger elephants it has to be Razzle Dazzle, which hasn’t been replicated into a smaller elephant as many of the other designs have. I love the design of the elephant, it’s retro and that appeals to my taste – I also like the story behind this one. Razzle Dazzle was created by costume designer Sheara Abrahams – who created costumes for the recent Les Miserables film – using rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation to reflect the elephants timeless grandeur.
Q: Do you feel that the Bromley has been a successful part of The National Tour?
A: I would say that the UK tour has been a huge success generally but especially so here in Bromley. It is here that I think the Elephant Parade has had its busiest days ever probably worldwide, including the sale in Bromley of the largest size of elephants available in the shop (excluding the large elephants being auctioned) which is an almost life-size baby Asian elephant.
Q: What has been the public reaction in Bromley?
A: Very inquisitive – lots of questions. Sparkey has caused lots of interest (the elephant Sparkey is designed by Rylan Clark with Cath Adam and is covered with hundreds of self-adhesive crystals) with people asking if they can take him home, how much he costs… and even if he is waterproof to keep in their garden!
People have come and introduced themselves to me from as far and wide as Copenhagen and Singapore – and some people had been to the last UK tour – and had come back again to see this year’s elephant designs!
Q: What is next for the Elephant Parade?
A: Well after The National Tour has finished at the end of July 2014 and the elephant auction has concluded, the Elephant Parade is off to Hong Kong next, but hopefully it will be back to visit the UK again in the next two years as it’s been such as success! I’ve had people approach me here in Bromley asking if we can bring the parade to Australia and Dubai, it’s really great to hear such enthusiasm for this project.
The on-line auction of the large elephant commissioned for The National Tour of the Elephant Parade closes at midnight on Saturday 26th July 2014 and there are still some amazing pieces to be bought – not only to own one of these beautiful creations but to raise money for the Asian Elephant Foundation. Alternatively, if you don’t have room for a baby elephant in your house (or garden!) the Elephant Parade shop – either on-line or in Bromley’s intu shopping centre – sells a variety of smaller sized elephants.