Project Details


Howie Watkins and David Shepherd, along with a team of artists and designers supervised the construction of an artwork consisting of a mural and freestanding - life sized - sculptures of elephants.  By the end of the day, the marquee contained a representation of the African plains: past, present and (possible) future.

The final artwork resulted from a combination of the contributions from the design team and the public.  This ensured that the work was genuinely participatory, fully involving the public and evolving as the day progressed.

The visual elements of the artwork were constructed from reused materials; junk collected from industry.  This allowed us to highlight the important conservation role we can all play through a greater recycling and reuse of resources.



The mural (approximately six hundred square feet in area) was created by erecting and then painting upon a "canvas" of waste cardboard.  It consisted of two panels of equal size running along the rear and left hand walls of the marquee.

The construction of the mural was a two stage process: painting a background scene and creating animals and plants to fit within it.  Both stages took place simultaneously with members of the public free to paint the background and/or cardboard cutouts which were added to the background as it neared completion.  This approach allows participants of all ages and abilities to contribute freely to the finished mural whilst still allowing our team to control the finished result to a large degree.

Detailed View of Mural.

The sketch above shows the basic layout of the mural designed by Chris Andrews (click on it for a detailed view).  On the right hand side we see a scene typical of an African Plain: groups of animals against a background of mountains and lush vegetation.  On the left-hand side, we see the consequences of intensive ranching, poaching and uncontrolled human encroachment upon the plain.  This section, a symbolic "Africa-future", shows a dry plain littered with the corpses and skeletons of animals along with tombstones and a highway blocked with traffic and pollution. 

The message was simple, yet effective, “Do you want to risk this happening to some of the most important wild habitats in the World?”.  Having posed this question, in a simple and graphic way, the other activities and information delivery points within the marquee gave participants the chance to learn more about the developmental and conservation problems faced by Africa and built a greater understanding of the importance of the in-situ conservation programmes operated by DSCF.  Experts and environmental educators were on hand to discuss the issues raised and the work of DSCF. 



The centerpiece of the installation was a life-sized pair of African Elephants, a Bull and Calf.  These too were constructed mainly from waste materials. 

The basic shapes of the sculptures were created by building a wood and chicken-wire frame to which "skin" made from old hospital sheets, surplus material from tea-bag manufacture and plaster was added.

Although all our sculptures are normally built from scratch, the time-scale and location of this installation demanded that they be partially constructed prior to the event and assembled on site before the public entered.  By taking this approach we ensured that all participants had the opportunity paint a section of finished elephant.


Ellie Masks

In our experience, it is important to allow participants to create something for themselves that they may take away from the installation as a souvenir.  In order to allow this, we also ran an elephant mask workshop.  Pre-made cardboard cut-outs of elephant heads were provided for participants to paint as they wished.  Once dry, these were transformed into masks, by the simple addition of a stick.

We also had a small army of volunteer face-painters on hand to create revenue and add to the "Africa Experience".


Customs & Excise

A stall of illegally imported, confiscated, animal artifacts was provided to allow participants to learn more about the illegal trade in the body parts of endangered mammals.  Biofacts (natural animal remains e.g. teeth, antlers etc. from captive animals) were also be available for the public to handle.  The stall was provided and manned by H.M. Customs and Excise inspectors able to answer questions and provide information on the display specimens.



Information delivery and fund raising: through donations and merchandising were central to this installation.  There were three main information points: 

The Meet and Greet zone by the entrance was manned by staff to welcome members of the public and guide them into the marquee.  These staff will also acted to control crowds and implemented a ticket system for the art activities during busy periods.

The DSCF information point at the entrance to the marquee handled general enquiries about the installation and DSCF.  This station also promoted the sponsors and ensured that their support was fully acknowledged.

The Merchandise and Autographs stall in the marquee stocked a range of DSCF merchandise and acted as contact point for guest celebrities.



The event was sponsored by Imation.  Posters, postcards and banners were designed and printed free of charge by 3D Studio.  TDI provided free advertising space on the London Underground.  Covent Garden Market gave us free use of both the East Piazza and their custom made marquee.  Colorblend donated paint.  Transport was provided by Kennings Car and Van Rental.  Cardboard was supplied by the W.J.Jenkins and Son of Swansea.  Find out more about our sponsors and suppliers here.


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