Curious objects from India to help raise UK funds for elephant charity
London: A series of curious objects, including fertility symbols, collected by a British conservationist on his tours of India will help raise millions of pounds for a charity he founded to save the Asian elephant.
Mark Shand, the brother of Camilla Parker-Bowles wife of Prince Charles, had set up Elephant Family as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild.
Mark Shand s Adventures and his Cabinet of Curiosities has been conceptualised as a multi-medium exhibition that captures the many journeys made by the writer and philanthropist, including many riding his Indian elephant named Tara.
While Shand passed away suddenly nearly four years ago, his daughter Ayesha is spearheading a new fundraising drive for the charity by putting up for auction some of the unique objects he collected on his travels as well as photographs of his adventures by Indian photographer Aditya Patankar.
"Following his death in 2014, I inherited many of the photographs from his travels, and his cabinet of curiosities, and I looked for ways to understand and honour his exceptional life.
"My father collaborated with many artists in order to draw attention to the need to save the Asian elephant and their habitat," said Ayesha Shand, the co-curator of the exhibition.
Among the set of "curiosities" on auction is an extensive collection of phallic fertility sculptures from tribes and villages across India and Indonesia.
They have been re-imagined by being moulded in jesmonite from the originals by 48 artists, designers and illustrators, including Natasha Kumar, Philip and Charlotte Colbert and Jack Penny, among others.
The project included a collaboration with London-based mythologist and storyteller Seema Anand, who offered a sneak preview to her forthcoming book 'Arts of Seduction' based on the philosophies and the mythologies of the 'Kamasutra'.
The exhibition, which opened earlier this month, was accompanied by a talk by Anand to contextualise the fertility symbols up for auction.
"The collection of Shands' fertility symbols, many of which he acquired during his travels in India, have a narrative that reaches far beyond the immediate physical aspect they are rooted in a mythology and philosophy that is both divine and terrestrial," she said.
"Much like the work of Elephant Family in the conservation of the Indian elephant, my work is based on the conservation and rehabilitation of India's ancient and medieval literatures and reintroducing them to society," she added.
The exhibition, with a total of 29 photographs and 101 original sculptures, is on auction via adventuresandcuriosities.com with all the funds raised ear-marked for the Elephant Family, which claims to have funded over 160 conservation projects and raised over 10 million pounds through public art events across the globe since 2002.