Artist Jill Impey is bringing her creation back to Shrewsbury. The full-size female Indian elephant sculpture took over a year to make from donated, old and unwanted furniture dowel jointed to a plywood base, and was made in the studios of Participate Contemporary Artspace, in the old Co-op building of the Riverside Shopping Centre.
The sculpture is part of an exhibition called the Elephant in the Room Conversations on display at Powis Castle until 30 October. Jill Impey, former lecturer at the art school, Shrewsbury College, curated the exhibition of more than 20 artworks by Welsh and Borders artists most of whom she has worked alongside at the art school.
I have always been interested in the connections between Powis Castle and Shrewsbury, through the Clive family and in particular the South Asian artefacts in the collection. The aim of the exhibition is to engage visitors in discussions about, the relationships between trade, British colonial history, and the migration of peoples ideas and objects, said Jill who has been a director of Participate Contemporary Artspace, Community Interest Company since February 2015.
There was a lot of interest in the elephant as I was making it through the year and people were able to see it laid out on the floor of the studio. I'm looking forward to bringing it back to Shrewsbury along with the rest of the exhibition, so that local people and visitors can interact with it. It will be different from the Powis Castle exhibition, because it's not amongst the collection, but I expect to have many interesting conversations because of the link with Clive of India and Shrewsbury in particular.
The project has been very successful at Powis Castle, having been visited by schools, Colleges and community groups alongside the regular National Trust visitors, and while it has not received any funding it has benefited from the excellent support of the Castle staff and volunteers. Jill is in the process of re-applying for funding and hoping to be able tour the exhibition to at least two more venues in 2016. Exhibiting in Wales and the fact that I'm not a Welsh artist, limits the availability of financial support for this kind of project, but this highlights the themes of the exhibition in relation to borders and boundaries both personal and geographical.
The Elephant in the Room Conversations exhibition will be at Participate Contemporary Artspace throughout November from 3rd.-30th.