In late 2017 I was invited by the St Lukes Charity to commission a design for forthcoming Elmer Elephant Fun Trail which would be situated in and around the city of Plymouth.
The elephant is from the famous children's author, David McKee's series of picture books based on an elephant who doesn't fit in.
I was delighted to hear that my design had been chosen for one of the forty elephants to be displayed out of 180 entrants.
Below is the initial design.
This design was chosen by one of the sponsors of the elephants, Stamford Fort Fitness and Health Centre, Jennycliff Lane in Turnchapel, Plymouth.
They asked if the Fort could be incorporated into the design, which could replace Mount Edgcumbe House on the rear of the elephant. We also discussed the firework display side of the elephant and how this could be adapted to a view across to Turnchapel from the Barbican. I agreed to both ideas as this wouldn't change the overall design of a 'celebration of Plymouth'.
The manager and owner or Fort Stamford. And myself wondering how long it would take to paint a 3D elephant!
The elephant was delivered to my house in early March 2018 and was placed on a canvas covered table in a downstairs spare room.
I think the dogs were somewhat stunned by the presence of an elephant. :)
The first tentative sketch...
The background is added and Drakes Island painted in.
I sketched details on to paper then positioned them on the elephant. This helped with the busy composition of the Plymouth Sound side.
Then Smeaton's Tower...
The Fort Stamford bottom was worked on next. Adding the houses of Turnchapel and the harbour at Mount Batten.
My two assistants weren't always focussed on the job at hand.
I'd never painted anything on a 3D shape before. It was a challenge to get all images and aspects to blend together. And yes, my beard does grow that quickly.
There are many details I added to the finished painting, including Elmer himself.
And I was the first to paint the wonderful new Theatre Royal sculpture, 'The Messenger' on to my Elmer.
Spraying the fireworks on using a template I cut out of card. Lots of masking!
Finally, after a month, it was finished and ready to be picked up.
Before being placed throughout the city, the elephants needed a coat of varnish. I helped with this laborious process. Seeing all of the many amazing designs together in one room was breathtaking.
There was an overwhelming response to the Trail. 'Stampyford', as the sponsors named him, was voted the best design. I was over the moon.
At the end of the event, in October, there was a grand auction of all the elephants. I was very proud to see my elephant sell for an amazing £15,500. The second biggest amount of the evening after Brian Pollards elephant. Here is the actual moment Stampyford went under the gavel.
It was a privilege to be involved in this wonderful project and such an amazing organisation.
I met some amazing artists.
St Lukes made over £320,000 from the evening alone.
Would I do it again if asked? Yeah... I think so. But maybe with a much simpler design!