Elephants in Exhibition

The elephants at Amber Fort climb steep stone pathways in extreme heat, for the pleasure of tourists. As people become aware of the cruelty, more and more choose to forsake the experience and leave the drivers with their empty seats.

The elephants at Amber Fort climb steep stone pathways in extreme heat, for the pleasure of tourists. As people become aware of the cruelty, more and more choose to forsake the experience and leave the drivers with their empty seats.

If you really love the elephants here in India, don't ride them. Don't chain them up and take selfies... instead get artistically inspired and join in with a global campaign that is raising awareness of elephant cruelty and working towards elephant conservation.

Elephant Family is a registered charity that is committed to delivering effective conservation projects, changing government and corporate policy and generating mass support for elephant protection. Here in Jaipur, we've been working with them on the global Travels to my Elephant art project, whereby the organisation commissioned 101 elephant sculptures to be painted by renowned artists around the world, using art to raise awareness of elephant corridors and the importance of protecting these environments that are the species' habitat.

The 101 painted elephants then traveled Rajasthan as a caravan, joined by Ben Elliot, Zac Goldsmith, Nicholas Coleridge, Waris Ahluwalia and Joshua Jackson, who used their fame to generate media interest in the cause. Sri Ramu Ramdev created two pieces for the event, and for the past month the Jaipur City Palace studio has been bustling with creativity and hard work, to complete the pieces in time.

This is one of the pieces that came from Jaipur City Palace, the other being a traditional Royal Elephant painted in the Jaipur colours. I was honored to be invited to contribute to this artwork, and assisted the artists in painting classical Indian Miniature designs onto the tree detail and some other small areas of the miniature painting mural. The whole piece was completed by a team of 7 artists who worked night and day, directed by Sri Ramu Ramdev who composed and orchestrated the piece. Ramuji completed all final detail and brought the vision to life; the finished artwork combines classical design mixed into modern style, and features 24k gold leaf and semi-precious gem stones within the paint work.

Clockwise from back left: Shyamu Ramdev, Ramu Ramdev, Sita Ram, Bobby, Vinodji

Clockwise from back left: Shyamu Ramdev, Ramu Ramdev, Sita Ram, Bobby, Vinodji

Find out more about where the pieces will be exhibited by checking in with the Elephant Parade. Currently on exhibition in Delhi, the 101 elephants will next head to Mumbai, and then plans are for the artwork to travel to Sotheby's Gallery in London, UK, where they will be on auction and proceeds will go to the Elephant-Family conservation campaign.

In the meantime, if you're travelling in India be aware of the suffering that these creatures often endure in the name of tourism. If you are inspired by these majestic creatures then choose responsible companies that work in natural environments, and don't give your money to people that are dressing elephants up and making them walk up hills in the burning midday sun. Make decisions that are in alignment with your humanity. Be conscious of your power as a consumer and travel with awareness.

Photographed with my teachers and team of artists, as the finished artwork prepares to set off to Delhi.

Photographed with my teachers and team of artists, as the finished artwork prepares to set off to Delhi.

Painting in the palace, October 2017

Painting in the palace, October 2017