The story of how the elephants came marching in

Bringing art and hospitality together

This week EP created and hosted a unique charity dinner to raise funds for the Tofauti Foundation – a special charity focused on elephant conservation in Kenya. As part of the evening, which included an Indian Kenyan themed menu, EP collaborated with a number of talented artists to create unique pieces of art which could be displayed and raffled on the night. This is the story of how these special elephants came about.

When creating the plan for the charity dinner at The May Fair, EP wanted to ensure the table decoration and centrepieces aligned to the theme of the evening. Often events are held where the flowers in the middle of the table do not reflect the ambience of the night or indeed obstruct the view of the opposite side of the table.

It was also around this time in London that the ‘Elephant Parade’ was held again – the world’s largest touring public elephant art exposition. The brilliant sculptures, decorated by India’s best artists, designers and creative talents, were dotted throughout Mayfair and Chelsea. Whilst the elephants in Africa are different (size of the ears), this was in some ways the inspiration for the art project.

The evening was created for Olympic Gold Medalist Crista Cullen’s charity, the Tofauti Foundation and to bring people together for an important global cause. With 55 elephants slaughtered each day by poachers, EP wants to support the cause and ensure future generations can still see an elephant in the wild.

EP began the process by sourcing elephant statues and eventually settled on a couple of different papier-mâché creations. Some with their trunks raised high and others with ears flapping. This was followed by the highly enjoyable process of speaking to artists, art consultants and galleries who believed in what the event was trying to do and achieve.

Positive conversations with leading artist Helen Brough of Helen Brough Studios (who kindly provided three beautiful elephants), led EP to Louise Fitzjohn, Galleries Director at Jealous Gallery who wanted to support the cause. Louise and Gallery Administrative Assistant Fern Goozee kindly contacted some of the talented artists they work with.

Those who raised their hand high in the air and offered to become involved were:

Jess Wilson

Jess draws inspiration from humorous occurrences which happen around her in real life and in the media. Her elephant was inspired by war machines from back in the day and how the elephants are fighting a war to survive.

Augustine & Bridgland

From Danny Augustine and Adam Bridgland. The due are constantly developing their unique style of painting and print, blurring the lines of traditional thought between the two artistic mediums

Alessandra Paglialonga

Bright colours are an important element in her work, as well as sharp shapes and clean design. Alessandra’s Elephant is screaming, with every single part of their body FREEDOM, and written in 27 languages.

These artists were joined by three other impressive talents:


Gavin Rae

Art consultant Angela Wendkos Jackson introduced EP to a number of amazing artists around the world, one of which was Gavin Rae, the mixed media pop artist, who decorated two stunning elephants. Having only been an artist for just under two years, he struggled at first to find a certain style, but has now developed numerous styles, and works with many different mediums, from broken tile mosaics to spray paint and from photography to sculpture.

Helen Brough

As mentioned earlier, Helen has a natural curiosity in the unconscious and how the inner is brought out through dreams and illusions. The imagery of her work, landscape or abstract, is concerned with her perception of reality. Her elephants have been inspired by the sunsets of Africa – bright orange, red and yellow. With black silhouettes of the Acacia tree.

Gavin Penn

Gavin painted two elephants inspired by the Maasai Warriors, their tribal patterns and body adornment. Gavin has been painting professionally for over 20 years and owns “Penn Gallery” in Northumberland.

Holly Maslen

Artists Jo Hummel Newell introduced EP to Holly Maslen whose passion is towards animal conservation and who created a number of elephants for the project. Holly is influenced by the aesthetics of Japan and Scandinavia, from the imagination, rather than the physical world.

They were all sent the little elephants and applied their creative magic to turn the papier-mâché statutes into incredible elephant art pieces. Each with its own story, style and look. They were sent back by the artists and EP placed each one among green and gold leaves in the centre of the tables in the Crystal Ballroom at The May Fair Hotel in London.

On every table a guest could enter the raffle for £10 per ticket (and as many times as they wanted) and one person would be the lucky winner and get to go home with the elephant statute. The hope is that it will take pride of place in their home and they create a connection with the artist. The elephant art raffle alone raised £1,500 for the Tofauti Foundation charity and added to amounts raised via live and silent auction.

With 55 elephants slaughtered every day by poacher’s EP wanted to do more to raise awareness and impact of the need to protect these beautiful animals. Projects like this added to the overall excitement of the evening. EP sends huge thanks to all artists, galleries and art consultants involved in making this happen.

Watch the video below to see the night in action:

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