inspired by: the sultan’s elephant

The Sultan’s Elephant was a giant public art installation featuring miraculously big marionettes, in, funny enough, Nantes, France. You can listen to the song in the background of reading this blog post, and you’ll see it goes along nicely.

These images are via Wikipedia:

Credit for the find goes to Jenny Hart, founder of Sublime Stitching who linked to the Wikipedia entry and pointed out that the girl was meant to have run around wreaking havoc all around her, and that she had literally stitched cars into the pavement while at play. Brilliant!

My favorite line of her post is, “These are cars she stitched to the earth.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The elephant

The Sultan’s Elephant was a show created by the Royal de Luxe theatre company, involving a huge moving mechanical elephant, a giant marionette of a girl and other associated public art installations. In French it was called La visite du sultan des Indes sur son éléphant à voyager dans le temps (literally, “Visit From The Sultan Of The Indies On His Time-Travelling Elephant”). The show was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Jules Verne’s death, by the two French cities of Nantes and Amiens, funded by a special grant from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.[1] The show was performed at various locations around the world between 2005 and 2006.

Design and construction

The elephant was designed by François Delarozière.[2] It was made mostly of wood, and was operated by 22 ‘manipulateurs’ using a mixture of hydraulics and motors. It weighed 50 tons, as much as 7 African elephants.

[With] hundreds of moving parts and scores of pumping pistons (22 in the trunk alone), the elephant appealed to the same part of the British psyche that admires Heath-Robinson contraptions and reveres eccentric inventors. More than 56 square metres of reclaimed poplar was combined with steel ribs to create the elephant’s sturdy skeleton. The attention to detail was extraordinary, from the flapping leather ears and deep wrinkles around the eyes to the puffs of dust sent up by its plodding feet, and the snaking, reticulated trunk.[2]

The elephant no longer exists: Helen Marriage of Artichoke, the company that produced the London performance, said “Royal de Luxe were so fed up with being invited all over the world to perform The Sultan’s Elephant, they just destroyed it.”[3]

A replica of the elephant was built in Nantes (France) in 2007, as part of the Machines of the Isle of Nantes permanent exhibition.[4]

One Comment

Leave a Reply