I am a frequent visitor to the V & A Museum and am, in fact, a Member.
Generally the Jewellery and Silver Departments are of particular interest to me, however, as a result of recent trips to Asia I now find myself spending more time in the Asia Section. Having seen and enjoyed rides on elephants in India I am quite intrigued by their behaviour. On the one hand they can be adorned with all kinds of gems for religious ceremonies and then on the other hand, all finery removed, they plunge through the bush, swinging from side to side with tourists perched precariously on their backs. It is amazing how so large an animal can so gracefully climb muddy banks.
After much searching the piece of work which inspired me to think of ways of connecting my skills is with the elephant situated in the Asia Room. Even though there is no colour on the piece itself, one cannot help but imagine the elephant in all its glory as it parades in a religious festival.
There are bells, gems, cords, chains and, one fills, flowers covering much of the elephant's huge body. My work is a necklace using sterling silver. The chain of bells around its neck, as well as on its rump I have transformed into 20 small squares, attached to each other with back-fitting jump rings. The surface of the squares has been textured into a variety of designs to give some indication of the rough surface of the elephant's hide.
On the back of two squares are scored marks to indicate that as the Mahout sat with his feet behind the elephant's ears to control its movement, some scarring took place.
Finally, the chain connecting the squares reflects the cords around the elephant's legs and body.
V&A collection reference number(s):
IM.14-1938 South-East Asia, Room 47b, case 5