Elmer’s Heart of Kent Parade just four months away
For Maidstone, the County town of Kent, the year of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant has arrived. In less than four months’ time a parade of beautifully designed elephants will be marching onto the streets of Maidstone in Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade.
Since the announcement last year that Heart of Kent Hospice would be bringing the first-ever public sculpture trail to the town, a lot has been happening:
The trail has encouraged a stampede of companies, schools, public sector organisations, tourist sites and community groups to become involved. Fifty full-sized sculptures have been sponsored by local companies and public sector organisations, with many smaller organisations pledging their support for the trail and raising funds for the Hospice.
Local schools, brownies and scout groups are having mammoth amounts of fun meeting their story-book hero ‘in person’. Thousands of local children are being inspired by Elmer, not only to read more and be creative, but to adopt the character’s philosophy of celebrating difference and not being afraid to be themselves. As part of the Parade’s Learning Herd, they are also finding out more about the area in which they live, and their local Hospice and how it cares for people at the end of their lives. In total, 31 baby Elmers have been adopted by local schools and community groups. During the trail, they will be found gathered in small herds inside key venues around Maidstone.
Last month, the Partners and Sponsors of the trail came together at Maidstone Museum to choose their favourite designs from a stunning collection of submissions from local and national, and amateur and professional artists. The surprise of the night was the reveal of the first decorated sculpture. Where’s Elmer? was designed and decorated by author and illustrator, Martin Handford, who gained worldwide fame with his enormously successful Where’s Wally? books.
Under cover of darkness, the other Elmer elephants and baby Elmers have also arrived in the UK and have been waiting in a secret location to be introduced to the talented artists who will be decorating them ready for the trail on 20 June. While some artists will be decorating Elmer in their own studio, others will be using a public painting space at The Mall in Maidstone. The designs will still be a closely guarded secret, but from 3 March, members of the public will be able to peep through a specially designed window to catch glimpses of the Elmers as they are transformed.
Finally in this next phase of the project, Heart of Kent Hospice is on the search for its Elmer Trailmakers; its team of enthusiastic volunteers that are going to make this historic event happen. Like Elmer, the volunteers will need to be outgoing and welcoming to visitors wanting to take part in the trail.
According to Sarah Pugh, Chief Executive: “This is a momentous event for Maidstone and we want as many people as possible to take part. It’ll be a great experience and to be able to say you’ve been part of the first-ever art trail in our County town will be so rewarding.
“We can’t do this alone, so we’re looking for Elmer Trailmakers to welcome locals and tourists alike, accompany an Elmer at its part of the trail and tell visitors the story behind every Elmer and its location, while also raising awareness of Heart of Kent Hospice.”
Working 10:00am – 1:00pm or 1:00pm – 4:00pm the charity is looking to cover over 300, three-hour shifts during weekdays and weekends.
Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade takes place from 20 June to 23 August 2020. To find out more about the trail or to become a Trailmaker, please visit https://elmermaidstone.co.uk/get-involved/