Creating a national tour elephant with local flavor
Angie Rogers is the Yorkshire-based artist, who created Stone Rosie, the elegant and intricate Elephant Parade design inspired by York Minster.
Angie says: “I was surprised and delighted to be asked to submit a design for the Elephant Parade national tour and of course accepted the challenge as I have always loved elephants.” She said the inspiration for the design came from pondering “the sheer size and grandeur of these wonderful beasts.” She said this helped her make the connection to another favourite of hers - the great gothic cathedral at York.
“An elephant is like the cathedral of the animal world, large and stately to look at, a repository of history and memory, a precious source of wonder to be cherished and saved.”
Angie said that as a painter and printmaker, she finds the features of York Minster she is most drawn to are those great expanses of jewel-like stained glass. “When seen from inside the building they seem to float in an ocean of dark space. This is the aspect I wanted to celebrate on Stone Rosie, my creation for Elephant Parade.”
Reflecting on the selection of design entries for the national tour, intu’s Trevor Pereira commented: “From the moment we conceived the idea of giving Elephant Parade a countrywide platform to raise awareness of elephant conservation, intu was committed to creating a national tour with local flavor – an exposition that would surprise and delight the millions of people that experienced the elephants, yet draw on artistic references from all corners of the UK. Angie’s Stone Rosie design had the ‘wow factor’ even from the initial A4 design sketch and it has arrested public attention at every UK tour stop so far. It’s an incredible design statement and we’re proud to be showcasing it for the intu national tour.”
When asked to talk through her design, Angie mentioned the elements of the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ in York Minster’s West Window that decorate the elephant’s forehead, while the famous Rose Window - featuring the white and red Tudor roses - adorn both her sides. “I gave Rosie blue eyes to signify her heavenly nature and to acknowledge the role of blue pigment in the history of Western painting,” she adds.
By a strange twist of fate, the arrival of Rosie quickly followed Angie’s recent transfer to a new painting studio located at a remote chapel in the South Pennine hills above Hebden Bridge, where she lives.
So Rosie came to life in a spiritual building filled with glowing stained glass, the very medium that inspired her creation.
Rosie’s delivery did cause a bit of a stir however as she was too big to fit through the internal studio doorway and had to be painted in a corridor. This wasn’t ideal Angie says, not least because the light is not as good as in her studio. But the upside of this was a raised awareness about Asian elephant conservation amongst the visitors and concert goers coming to Wainsgate Chapel, as they squeezed past roly poly Rosie on the way in!
Angie said that it was a challenge to paint something so large, particularly when painting on a 3D rather than a flat surface. “I did wonder at times why I had picked such an intricate pattern. It was particularly tricky getting the design to work over the curve of the elephant’s belly. But I am a perfectionist so I wanted to get it right.”
Angie has previously been involved with a number of conservation projects. In 2011/12 she was Resident Artist for the Watershed Landscape Project. A woodcut she made of a Twite - an endangered small ground-nesting Finch of the South Pennines - was used on the label of Light Twite, a local, organic, bottle-conditioned pale ale commissioned to lift the profile of the RSPB’s Twite Recovery Project.
The natural world is a major source of inspiration for Angie’s work. She says she enjoys observing the minutiae of detail within the flora and fauna of her local environment, as well as a broader viewpoint of the austere uplands, moorland reservoirs and steep wooded valleys that surround her home. Angie believes encouraging people of all ages to discover and enjoy their local wildlife is a vital foundation for fostering a wider concern transcending geographical and national borders. To this end she has organised numerous outdoor art activities and has even taken her portable printing press out into the wilds when working with schools and community groups.
She says: “As a child drawing tiny images of the wild roses growing along the neighbourhood hedgerows, I little imagined that years later I would be painting 98 double Tudor roses on the curving form of an elephant.
“The love of wild things and the desire to be an artist have never waned though, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to put the two together with the aim of saving wild elephants.”
She says she misses seeing “Rosie’s smiling cheerful face each day” but she has been to see her at intu Trafford Centre, as part of the Elephant Parade national tour, presented by intu. She says: “It was great to see her in the intu shopping centre. The elephants look big - but not as big as one does when you are painting it. It’s great that the tour has taken these elephant to a number of cities this year, I only wish it were more.”
To find out more about Angie’s work visit www.angierogers.com A selection of the paintings, drawing and woodcuts that are available for sale can also be viewed on www.tumblinghills.com