March of the Elephants trail stomping ahead with new mural in Bishop's Castle

Bishop's Castle has a new resident as a three-story high elephant is welcomed to the town as part of its elephant trail plans.

Bamber Hawes and his team painted the elephant onto the side of Bishop's Castle Town Hall
Bamber Hawes and his team painted the elephant onto the side of Bishop's Castle Town Hall

Local artist Bamber Hawes and his team painted the mural onto the side of the town hall at the weekend after the March of the Elephants project managed to secure a grant of £5,000 from the Covid-19 Small Market Towns Marches Investment Fund.

The March of the Elephants is a project to create a trail of varied artworks carefully placed around the picturesque town.

An Elephant mural has been painted on the side of the Bishop Castle Town Hall by Bamber Hawes of Bishops Castle

The name is a play on the Shropshire Marches and celebrates the town’s long association with animal since it was believed some were kept there during the Second World War.

Bamber spent most of the day painting the three-story high Indian elephant, which is pictured standing on its hind legs to reach an apple from a little girl leaning out of a Banksy-style painted window.

The Banksy-style piece at the top of the mural was painstakingly stencilled and made into templates by Jamie Furber from Bishop's Castle company VT Prints.

It took Jamie a while to create the design of the girl in the window in such a specific and detailed style.

Bamber said: "We started at 8am and finished at 3pm. I had a group of brilliant people helping me. It is more than just painting the elephant, it was hours of making stencils and templates and arranging the whole thing."

An elephant mural has been painted on the side of the Bishop’s Castle Town Hall by Bamber Hawes as part of the new trail project

Keith Whiddon, from the March of the Elephants project, said they are really grateful to have received the funding that allowed them to do this.

He said: "The grant aimed to help us increase visitor footfall and regenerate business after the pandemic. By doing this mural on the wall, that's quite a landmark thing.

"It has created lots of conversation. A small town like Bishop's Castle needs something like that to attract customers and help small businesses.

The elephant will be part of the March of the Elephants Art Trail in Bishop's Castle

"It's right in the centre of town, on the town hall which, ironically, was painted grey.

"The lovely thing is it has allowed members of the community to work together on something."

Acclaimed national artist Andy Hazel has agreed to make a large bas-relief beaten copper elephant wearing a howdah to be sited in a prominent location in the High Street.

Another artist will make a very large elephant out of bent willow and canvas with a hidden windmill powering its swinging tail in a field near the entrance to Bishop’s Castle.

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