Artists thrilled to play their part in exciting Luton art trail for Keech

More than 70 elephant sculptures are on parade

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 3:42 pm

If you were wondering why there is a trail of elephants in Luton, then look no further.

They are part of a fabulous art installation to raise funds for Keech Hospice Care in Luton with five local artists involved in the event.

Vikki Ashmenall from Toddington, Sarah Harrison from Bedford and Jude Chapman, Beverley Sweetman and Mark Titchner (all from Luton) have all been involved in The Big Trunk Trail in Luton - a herd of more than 70 spectacular elephant installations in the biggest public art event Bedfordshire has ever seen.

Shine Bright is just one of the elephants on show

The free, family-friendly outdoor trail sees the gorgeous creatures out and about across Luton’s parks and landmarks. The elephants will be on parade until October 8 as Keech Hospice Care’s way of saying thank you in their 30th anniversary year to everyone who has supported them. The hospice is one of only a handful in the UK which support both adult and child patients and the sculptures will be auctioned off in November to raise valuable funds.

Vikki said: “I was delighted to be a part of the Big Trunk Trail as it was a completely different and new opportunity for me. I was able to use my art in a way I haven't before and it was a chance to meet other creatives which was great. I hope people enjoy going outdoors to see them and it brings a smile to their faces - even if they are just on their way to work or popping to the shop. It's something different and fun for people to experience.

"It's been excellent to work with Keech Hospice Care. I've loved being able to find out in more detail what they do to help patients and their families and how the trail will massively help in supporting them."

Jude said it was a special treat to take part in such a fabulous event right on her doorstep. “I have lived in Luton for more than 30 years and love its vibrant, diverse community, so being able to create a visual statement to the amazing youth music scene has been a great pleasure, and to celebrate 30 years of the Keech Hospice is amazing.

Vikki Ashmenall with her elephant

"I hope young people will be inspired when they see the wide range of musical opportunities available in Luton and want to discover more about taking part in the music at school and at the Luton Music Centre. Keech Hospice Care has a special place in the hearts of Lutonians so to be part of this trail has been a treat."

Beverley said: “As a local artist I was super-excited that my design was chosen by The Mall - Luton. To represent my town with my art and being a part of this incredible fundraising initiative is an amazing opportunity.

"My design’s called 'Shine Bright' and it’s a celebration of everything that I consider makes Luton great. The whole time I was painting the elephant sculpture I felt I was working as a part of a very special team raising awareness and ultimately generating vital funds so the hospice can continue delivering its important services to the town.”

The best known of the many highly talented and proficient artists is also a local. Former Turner Prize nominee, Mark Titchner said: “I was slightly nervous because this is so different from what I normally do but I’m very happy to support the work the hospice does.

"My inspiration came from local history. There’s a photo of women in Luton in World War II making camouflage netting that's always intrigued me. It made me think, ‘It’s such an extraordinary thing to be asked to paint an elephant so why not do something completely unexpected like painting it with the kind of dazzle camouflage which was used to conceal warships during the two World Wars - so that’s the basis of the design.

"I usually work with text so there are words concealed and distorted in the camouflage; it’s a bit of a visual puzzle. More seriously, Keech Hospice Care is really important to the community and it’s good to be able to show that art can be valuable in society other than just as a commercial enterprise.”

Some of the elephants have been produced for big names, including Great British Bake Off champion and Luton local, Nadiya Hussain and the charity established in the name of the fundraising hero, The Captain Tom Foundation.

Keech Hospice Care CEO, Liz Searle said: “We were really fortunate to be able to attract artists of this calibre for the Big Trunk Trail and we’re so delighted with what they’ve created. They’re already proving incredibly popular with people across East Anglia and are becoming quite the tourist attraction in their own right.”

There will be the chance for collectors to own an elephant of their own when the trail comes to an end in October. The large elephant sculptures are being auctioned on November 11 , with all the proceeds helping Keech Hospice Care continue its vital work, caring for adults in Luton and south Bedfordshire and children from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes with life-limiting and terminal illnesses. Fans of the artists can register for the auction at https://bit.ly/BigTrunkTrailAuction.

For anyone wishing to help the charity during the Trail, donations can be made via the Keech Connect app or by texting trunk to 70470 to make an instant £3 donation (£3 donation plus standard rate message). For more information on donating or participating in the auction visit The Big Trunk Trail website www.bigtrunktrail.co.uk or follow the herd on social media @BigTrunkTrail, #BigTrunkTrail.