Earlier this year I had the pleasure of being one of the invited artists for the 2010 London Elephant Parade, an ambitious attempt by the charity Elephant Family to raise money to help save the endangered Asian elephant. The parade was a great success, raising more than £4 million – significantly more than expected – which went directly to projects in India and Thailand.
The elephant I submitted, Matilda, was covered in a delicate patchwork of 2,000 historical photos of London carefully selected from the archives of the British Library, the Press Association, the Science and Society Picture Library, the Museum of London, and English Heritage. It turned out to be a successful work, selling for £15,000 at Sotheby’s to a collector in the Cayman Islands (where she now sits). A selection of studio images of the completed elephant can be seen here and the formal press release here.
One of the most exciting parts of this project was the image selection process when about 10,000 photographs were reviewed and carefully filtered to ensure a good and balanced set of photos that were both historically representative and which also had a strong aesthetic coherence. The selection covered the period from about 1880 to 1970 and was a bewildering mixture of the absurd, the tragic, the informative, the disturbing, and the intriguing.
Matilda was eventually exhibited at the Museum of London for about two months though the majority of people reading this will not have had the opportunity to see it and take pleasure in any of the superb photos. So I have decided to post here a selection (80) of some of the 2,000 that sit on Matilda. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I have and oh, do spare a thought for those people who had to stick the damned things!