Devon-based artist Martin Procter has returned to his cherished, signature genre of fishing village paintings for a one-off commission, but his inspiration had nothing to do with fish, the sea or seagulls. The inspiration was an elephant.Martin has been commissioned to represent Devon and Cornwall for the imminent return of Elephant Parade to the UK. The world’s largest open-air art exhibition of decorated elephant statues, Elephant Parade brings the worlds of art, business, and charity together to raise public awareness and support for Asian elephant conservation.
When invited to participate Martin explains his reaction: “The idea of getting involved with the Elephant Parade was as unexpected as it was welcomed. The worthiness of the cause together with the challenge to paint something very definitely three-dimensional was irresistible, and justified a break from my Dartmoor project. Before my work became abstract, I was known for my interpretations of Westcountry scenes- harbours, boats, and buildings - painted generally with a flattened and aerial perspective. For some time I had resisted requests to return to my harbour scene genre, but Elephant Parade is something special and I was attracted by the idea of literally stamping Devon’s footprint on this national art tour.”
Martin is one of 30 leading UK artists that have been working on tour elephants over the last few months. From Edinburgh to Brighton, West Yorkshire to Cardiff, the Elephant Parade tour is drawing on artistic inspiration from across the UK. In addition to the work of the 30 tour artists, elephants are also being created by celebrities and intu is running a vibrant national art programme for school children around the UK. In all, more than 100 elephants will feature on Elephant Parade’s mammoth tour.
Martin Procter is a well-established contemporary artist living in the West Country. His work is widely exhibited and collected both in England and the United States and he is an Academician of South West Arts. His work reflects his academic background in human and physical geography, a design base in architecture, and his life-long passion for remote hill-country and wild places. He has built his reputation as a definitive interpreter of man’s interaction with the natural landscape. Widely travelled, he has held numerous solo and joint exhibitions.
Over the past four years, he has concentrated on the theme of migration, in its widest sense- birds, animals, people, culture, money, ideas, time- represented in increasingly abstract images. Martin is now focusing on a major project about Dartmoor, near his home, and where he has walked for over fifty years. In due course a major exhibition and book are planned.
Over the last few weeks, Martin has been giving thought to the name of his elephant. He comments: “I think this elephant is a he and he needed a name. After some thought I went for ‘Pilgrim.’ This seemed a natural choice, with its old West country sea-faring connections.”
Martin’s elephant is almost complete and will be leaving Devon next week to join the other elephants, which are gathering for the tour’s preview in mid July. Reflecting on his new masterpiece, Martin comments: “The end result is a continuous harbour scene, with different details on the starboard and port side. I hope it will remind people of this wonderful bit of England and it may even promote an alluring boost for local tourism. It is our job to never forget the plight of the Asian elephant and I hope my elephant will also strike a chord with people that have visited the West country coastline, re-ignite fond memories and remain a place that people will never forget. It has been great to be involved with Elephant Parade this year. Their mission to raise awareness of the Asian Elephant is to be applauded and the sale of the tour elephants will raise money for the Asian Elephant Foundation charity.”