Elephants Stampede Through Norwich In A Jumbo Art Festival

By Katie Brinkley | 23 June 2008
fibreglass elephant with a city scape painted on its body

Salford's cityscape comes to Norwich via an Elephant. Courtesy Norwich City Council

A herd of over 70 elephants will be parading its way to Norwich city centre this week as Norwich Forum’s Go Elephants! project arrives transforming the city into an urban safari park for the summer.

Stampeding through the city from June 23 to August 31, the trail of decorated fibreglass elephants is the largest free out-door art exhibition the city has ever seen.

Go Elephants! has seen people of all ages and cultures involved in decorating the herd which includes life-size baby elephants and mini elephants for a children’s Where’s Elly? trail.

orange and red fibreglass elephants in historic setting

Elephants go to visit Norwich's historic attractions. Courtesy Norwich City Council

Various community groups have enjoyed taking part in the project, designing and decorating the blank canvasses that were the elephants' bodies.

The result is an array of designs displaying great imagination, artistic flair and a variety of themes. Elephants come dressed in Norwich City football kit, turned into an old fashioned bus, wearing simple yet stunning gold with blue beads and transformed by a nature landscape.

Norwich's Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART), who work to protect and promote Norwich’s rich heritage, have helped to organise the event. Norwich 12, HEART’s collection of outstanding heritage buildings, will sponsor two of the elephants, while Norwich 12 buildings the Forum, Guildhall and Castle will become home to some of the new arrivals.

children painting a small elephant sculpture

Community groups and schools made their mark. Courtesy Norwich City Council

“Go Elephants! is a fun and innovative community project,” said Michael Loveday, Chief Executive of HEART.

“We hope that the Norwich 12 elephants will help local people and visitors discover some of the city’s outstanding heritage buildings for the first time, or look at them in a new light.”

Go Elephants! is the result of over forty partners working together for almost two years. Sponsors span the sectors including arts, education, heritage, finance, leisure, local government, retail and travel. Charities CLIC Sargent (caring for children with cancer) and Born Free (keeping wildlife in the wild) will benefit from the eventual auction of the elephants.

painted fibreglass elephant with an African theme

Meiluamni - designed and made by Kenyan school children. Courtesy Norwich City Council

Norwich is internationally renowned for its outstanding heritage. The city boasts two cathedrals, a castle and the only friary complex to survive the reformation intact. Multicultural influences, including English, French, Scandinavian and Roman have all helped to make the city what it is today and until the end of August, elephants will be defining the landscape.

Check out 24 Hour Museum’s Go Elephants! trail to find out where these new arrivals are hiding, discover which local groups and artists are involved, learn how to follow the trail around the city and meet Meiluamni, an elephant decorated by school children in Kenya.

HEART logo

Katie Brinkley is the 24 Hour Museum/Norwich HEART Student Writer in Norwich. Norwich Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust (HEART) is the groundbreaking initiative to regenerate, manage and promote one of the most remarkable heritage resources in the UK and in Europe.

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