6 Jan – 31 Oct 2021Garden
Have you discovered our family of elephants? Discover a herd of life-size elephant sculptures brought to Waddesdon in support of Coexistence campaign.
A family of three Indian elephants – a tusker, matriarch and a female calf can now be found in Half Moon Walk in the Pleasure Grounds. These portrait sculptures take their names from the real, wild elephants living in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu who modelled for them – Umed (whose name means Hope), Philomena and Baachcha.
Brought to Waddesdon in support of the CoExistence campaign, these life-sized elephant sculptures draw attention to the loss of biodiversity caused as humans encroach on wild spaces in the densely populated Indian subcontinent, across the world and here in the UK. Sculpted from dried Lantana Camara stalks wrapped over steel structures, the elephants have been made by artist Shubhra Nayar and a collective of local artisans under the creative direction of conservationist Ruth Ganesh. Lantana, which was brought to India by British tea planters as a decorative plant has become a toxic, invasive species outcompeting local flora, further highlighting the damage to global ecosystems done by humans.
The placement of these naturalistic sculptures, near the Aviary makes an important link with Waddesdon’s own conservation story. Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, the creator of Waddesdon, built the ornamental Aviary in the gardens in the 1880s, and stocked it with rare and exotic species.
The Rothschild family has long been connected with the world of natural history – most famously through the scientific activities of Walter, 2nd Lord Rothschild and his great collection and museum at Tring in the 19th century. More recently Miriam Rothschild, was recognised as a pioneer in conservation and re-wilding techniques.
Today the Aviary is one of Europe’s smallest licensed zoos because of its important conservation work to support endangered and critically endangered species though a captive breeding programme. Many of the species of bird we work with at Waddesdon are South East Asian in origin, so very relevant to Elephant Family.
Conceptualised by conservation charity Elephant Family, in collaboration with The Real Elephant Collective, the CoExistence environmental art campaign will be marking the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in May 2021 with an exhibition of a further 125 elephants across London’s Royal Parks.