Council adopts patchwork elephant for art trail

The first elephant to be designed as part of next year’s spectacular summer art trail, Herd In The City, has been unveiled.

Southend-on-Sea City Council, Presenting Partner of Herd In The City, has chosen their sponsored elephant, stomping into the City in the summer of 2023.

The public art trail – created by Havens Hospices and Wild in Art – will see 45 large elephant sculptures dotted around the City, including Shoeburyness and Leigh-on-Sea, each sponsored by a local business and decorated by artists in varying styles.

Alongside the graceful sculptures will be ‘mini herds’ of baby elephants, adopted and decorated by a school or community group, making art accessible to all.

As Presenting Partner for the public art trail, the council has chosen to adopt the first of the trail’s elephants – ‘Duke’. The vibrant patchwork elephant, decorated by Essex business Surfex, is bound to leave a lasting impression when it takes to the streets of Southend-on-Sea next year.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture and tourism for Southend-on-Sea City Council, says, “We are delighted to be the Presenting Partner of Havens Hospices for The Herd In The City art trail taking place in the summer of 2023. It’s sure to be a great day out for visitors and the local community who come in search of the herd.

“As well as discovering the beautifully decorated elephants, it will give everyone the chance to explore parts of our amazing City that they may not have visited before. Just as elephants never forget, we hope the trail creates precious memories that can be treasured forever.”

Surfex, a third-generation family business, decorated the elephant for free, and it was a real team effort. ‘Duke’ took five days to decorate, with six people working shifts to complete the design.

The company normally resurfaces vinyl nationwide, including cruise ships, hotels and office refurbishments, but this was the first time they have ever wrapped something quite so different.

Liam Cousins, a Director at Surfex, says, “It’s not every day you get to wrap an elephant – it’s a very awkward shape. The colours are much more vibrant than we tend to use, you wouldn’t see them in a lift!

“We’re really looking forward to seeing it out on the trail next year. It’s been a pleasure to do and give back to our community.”

At the end of the trail, the elephants will be sold at auction to raise thousands of pounds for the free, specialist hospice care Havens Hospices provides for local adults, children, and their families following the success of the charity’s ‘Hares About Town’ trail in 2021, which raised more than £447,000 for local hospice care.

Rachel Hawksworth, Project Manager for Havens Hospices, said: “We are so excited at the thought of a parade of elephants standing proud amongst Southend-on-Sea’s iconic attractions, bringing colour and fun to the city.”

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Cllr Carole Mulroney, Liam Cousins, Tom Duke standing in front of patchwork elephant