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The Big Picture
Got an elephant painting? Seems like it’s time to get yourself painting an elephant.
Like many interesting ventures, The Elephant Parade’s core concept is simple: invite artists and celebrities to paint resin elephants, exhibit and auction them all over the world, hire Thai artisans to replicate and sell them in miniatures, and a percentage of proceeds goes towards Asian elephant conservation. It’s a business, it is an art exhibition, it fosters creativity, it generates employment, it helps raise awareness and funds efforts to save one of the world’s most beloved animals, and it is a really cool brand.
For the past few years The Elephant Parade has held open-aired exhibitions in cities ranging from London to Singapore, Copenhagen to Amsterdam, raising millions upon millions of baht – Euros, even – for a handful of charities and foundations working for the conservation of Asian elephants.
As of this October, the global initiative will be opening up its official headquarters here in Chiang Mai – The Elephant Parade House.
The Small Elephant
Done the cooking and massage course, learnt how to be a mahout, zip lined through the jungle? Well it’s time to get your creative juices flowing. Elephant Parade House now lets YOU become an artist. A sexy little kit containing acrylic paints, brushes, an apron, a little pocket guidebook and a plain resin elephant will be yours on arrival at this spanking new Mecca to elephants and art. An artist will be on hand to help guide you along and you can either copy an existing design, or better yet, come up with one of your own.
Citylife was invited to the Elephant Parade factory – the house will be open later this month – and we were each given a kit and a couple of hours to create a masterpiece of (or more likely do damage to) an innocent resin elephant. We brainstormed ideas, we visualised our fabulous painted elephants, we mixed our colours, tied on our aprons and we got to work. Nearly four hours later, the sun was setting, the Elephant Parade staff was packing up to go home and we were still putting on the final touches to our elephants. Mine was sporting a rather saucy purple and yellow polka-dotted string bikini, our interns made one an Arsenal elephant and another was painted like a sexy golden tiger…while our photographer kept cheating and running into the factory to get the artists to paint his.
And we all went home proud as punch, elephants in hand.
Apparently if the creative-eyes-that-be at The Elephant Parade House like your design, they may even buy the rights for it, to replicate and sell world wide. I am still waiting for the phone call…
In the House
While painting resin elephants is going to be a major draw at Elephant Parade House, like the entire venture, which is very ambitious, there is a lot more going on.
The spacious venue in Chiang Mai Land – trust me, you won’t miss it, we don’t even need to give you directions – is hoping to be an interactive information, educational and creative centre for the global Elephant Parade brand. A visitors’ centre on the ground floor will showcase a multitude of painted elephants and other related products for sale, then there is a coffee and soft drinks corner on the mezzanine floor, with an educational centre on the second floor where all manner of exhibitions, multimedia tools, library and reading areas will be provided so that you can learn more about elephants. The top floor is the workshop where you can while away your hours painting your elephant.
The Good Cause
These gentle giants with flirty eyes are having a tough time in our fragile world. Their natural habitats are shrinking, their tusks hunted by illegal poachers, their feet blown off by landmines and they are slowly heading towards extinction, unless we do something about it. Fast.
The Asian Elephant Foundation is the main beneficiary of The Elephant Parade which in turn supports elephant conservation foundations in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Burma and Malaysia, including Friends of the Asian Elephant right here in Lampang. Proceeds from all products go towards the Asian Elephant Foundation.
Chiang Mai Land