Sheara Abrahams and Eitan Portnoy take on a jumbo art challenge


Two hundred elephants are on their way to London - and designers Sheara Abrahams and Eitan Portnoy are responsible for two of them.

The animals - of the fibreglass variety - will be displayed on plinths in locations around the city. The exhibition, known as the Elephant Parade, begins on Monday to raise awareness about elephant conservation in Asia.

Ms Abrahams, a 29-year-old costume designer, and Mr Portnoy, an Israeli artist living in London, were picked together with a number of high-profile names to paint the fibreglass elephants, each weighing 70kg. They join designers Lulu Guinness, Diane Von Furstenberg, Julien MacDonald, and John Rocha.

Mr Portnoy tells People: "I wanted to do a Jewish elephant." Called 'Charmed', it features a selection of Jewish and Israeli charms.

Ms Abrahams's creation, 'Mr William', has a very British inspiration - it is based on the patterns of William Morris from the late 1800s. "My design incorporates oak leaves and acorns and has been given a very modern, graphical slant," she says. "I wanted the colours to be bright and striking and the design to be simple and clear but effective, to look like it had been printed on to the elephant and not painted by hand, which has proven trickier than I thought.

"It definitely took longer than I thought. The surface area of the elephant is deceptively large. There are two different styles of elephant and I was given a sitting version. Trying to paint inside the legs and trunk was very difficult indeed - probably a good job that I'm small so I can crouch in crazy positions to reach the awkward parts." The Parade is the brainchild of father and son Marc and Mike Spits, who wanted to draw attention to fact that the Asian elephant is threatened with extinction. The statues will be auctioned by Sotheby's following the exhibition.

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