Kenneth the Elephant - The Story behind the Artwork

April 19, 2017

 

Ever since watching 'The Lion King' I have wanted to visit Africa. Little did I know what an adventure it would hold; Groupon coupon, early mornings, malaria tablets that makes you nauseous, and no luggage the entire time. Then one day when my friend and I decided we were just going to stay in and have drinks to mourn our lost luggage.... we met Kenneth

 

It was 2012 and my friend sent me a text. "Do you want to go to Africa?"

She had found this amazing Groupon deal and knew I'd be game... I believe the reply was something similar to a "hell yes"

Tickets booked, flights arranged, vaccinations done, malaria tablets purchased and we were off. 

Three flights later we made to to Africa - the only thing was our luggage did not.

Luckily I was a master carry-on bag expert having lost my luggage on a flight to Thailand a few years prior and I had the basics...unfortunately my friend did not. We were determined to not let this ruin our time and each night would wash our undergarments in the sink with soap and hang it to dry overnight. After several nights some fellow travellors having heard about our predicament took pity and lent us other clothes so we had two outfits to wear on our 10 day adventure instead of just one. 

You should have seen our joy when we found a place that washes laundry - we literally ran back to our room giddy with joy as we knew that the next day we would be wearing something that was soft and properly cleaned.

Each morning we would awake before 6 am to ensure we were able to see all the beautiful sights: lions prowling, the sun rising, hippos swimming and talking loudly, birds flying and one very grumpy morning face from me.

My friend, bless her heart, is an avid sleep talker, each night I was awakened by half understood conversations about hippos, lions, elephants and other things that had happened in our day and I will admit I was slightly scarier to my friend then the lions until I had breakfast and tea. I believe her quote was "You told me you weren't a morning person, but your REALLY not a morning person"

 

 We were down to using one camera a few days in as her camera charger was in our luggage that was somewhere between Canada and Africa, but even that didn't dampen our love for where we were. So sharing my camera we enjoyed all the beautiful sights and experience - giraffes with their soft gentle doe eyes, a huge herd of elephants roaming together down the Savannah, a lazy hyena laying on the road path until we were close enough he decided we should move. And the lions, by goodness they were gorgeous.  

 

Every night we would call the airport to see where the luggage may be and each night we were promised delivery of our luggage the very next morning - which never happened. Now do understand that we were on the move, we stayed in three gorgeous camps through our 10 day adventure, so we needed to co-ordinate where we were in order for our luggage to arrive in the appropriate place. These calls and trying to co-ordinate continued for each night of our trip until after several days the emotional rollarcoaster of hopes then disappointment took their toll and we decided to not go on one of the outtings to stay and just have some good old drinks

 

On our walk to get our much needed alcohol we saw him. A 25 year old wild elephant that each morning and night would walk up to the electrical fence surrounding our encampment and wait for the kitchen staff to come out as they would throw last nights fruit over the fence for him. 

We raced back to our cabin, grabbed our one camera and raced back. I could not even count the amount of photos we took but it was surreal being beside a completely wild elephant. He was caked in mud, his eyelashes clumped together and I knew that this man must be painted. 

The had called the elephant Kenneth so of coarse the name had to remain. It took me a few years before I had found the right materials to use for the piece and many months for me to finish him.

 

In the end I could not part with the original as he represented the beauty that is in the world that seems to show itself when you are feeling down and low, but I wanted to share him with the world and made 25 limited edition prints.

 

I strongly recommend anyone to visit Africa. Amazingly friendly people, stunningly beautiful animals, its a world like you cannot imagine.

 

We did eventually get our luggage back... I believe it was a week later... broken into and many things missing.. but that is a story for another day. 

 

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©2016 BY CRYSTAL CLARKE ANIMAL ART