When we heard that our very own Creative Director, Peter Cass, was designing an elephant for the Havens Hospices Herd In The City sculpture trail, we knew we wanted to sponsor it. So we sat down to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and role as an artist, as well as why he kept it such a secret!
What made you want to take part in the Herd In The City trail?
The trail came onto my radar a few years ago when we took the kids around the “Hare’s about town” trail. The whole family really enjoyed the experience and both my wife and I are in creative jobs (she’s an artist, I’m a graphic designer) so naturally we were keen to get involved and have a go ourselves if the opportunity ever came up again.
Tell us about the story behind your design?
The design is very much inspired by my father, Keith, who sadly passed away last August after suffering from a rare form of blood cancer. The artists call came at about the same time and his favourite animal happened to be an elephant, so it just all seemed to line up like it was meant to be. The design itself is a series of objects and symbols that in some way represent him – things that he liked or did, abstract representations of his personality traits, objects relating to work or hobbies etc. I wanted it to be colourful and fun because that was him in a nutshell.
Dad was an avid Southend United fan, but I think placing it in the centre circle is asking too much?! Maybe it could occupy his old season ticket seat in the East stand?”
Is it challenging translating your design to the sculpture?
Challenging, yes, but also massively enjoyable! I’ve never painted a 3 dimensional object before, certainly not one as large, so I hadn’t quite appreciated how big the surface area was or how tricky it would be painting 2D shapes onto a curving, undulating surface. Luckily though, I’ve had a huge amount of help & support from my family, with lots of them getting involved in the painting (kids and adults alike). This has been great as it’s given us some nice opportunities to chat about Dad and share elephant puns (which he would have appreciated). It’s been very much a collaborative piece!
What do you think of the elephants?
I think they’re great, they certainly have presence and are really going to stand out when you pass them in the street, can’t wait to see the herd!
What’s it like being an artist in the trail and being part of 6rs doing the brand and marketing at the same time?
Havens is just such a fantastic charity so being involved in the branding alone was brilliant and we had a lot of fun with it. Being chosen as an artist too is a massive privilege because I saw the quality of all the applications, so that’s been really validating. I want more now though, bring on the next animal sculpture trail!
How do you want people to feel when they see your elephant?
This is a tricky question because I haven’t really contemplated how I want people to feel when they see my elephant. I suppose that for those that knew him, I hope they look at it and see a bit of Keith, and for those that didn’t, I hope they get a small sense of what he was like. It will be great to hear what people feel about it though, whatever their reaction.
How did you feel when your design was chosen?
I would say proud, pleased and petrified. Proud because I think Dad would have loved the idea. Pleased because I got some great feedback about my design. Petrified at the realisation of having to actually do this!
Do you have any preference on where your elephant goes once the trail is over?
It would be great if it was placed outdoors somewhere, possibly somewhere high as he had a love for the outdoors and a fear of heights but always tried to face that fear, so I think he’d get a kick out of that. He was also an avid Southend United fan, but I think placing it in the centre circle is asking too much, maybe it could occupy his old season ticket seat in the East stand? Wherever it is though, it would be great to be able to visit it from time-to-time, just to say hi.
The Herd In The City trail starts in Southend on July 14th and you can learn more about the event at herdinthe.city
This is all about raising funds to help Havens Hospices continue their vital work in the community. Learn more about them here