I’ve written about elephants in the garden before but this one takes the cake. And not in a good way. The giant white elephant dwarfing the postage stamp, front yard at 77 Yarmouth Road in Toronto (Christie and Dupont area) is a folly in every sense of the word. It’s locally famous, naturally enough, but I find it awkward, mostly because the scale of the piece is just so wrong for the site.
The sculpture was created in 1999 by Matt Donovan who was then a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Constructed of fibreglass and coated with auto body compound, Donovan has entrusted the statue to his friend James Lawson, the owner of the Yarmouth Road house where the elephant stands sentry. “I guess that makes me the elephant’s keeper for as long as Matt has no other plans for it,” says Lawson.
When I ask if he’s annoyed by the attention the sculpture generates from people like me knocking on his door, Lawson says that interruptions are, in fact, rare. “I’m not disturbed by people gawking at my house and I enjoy the initial reaction of friends when they first visit–I never warn them about the elephant. But I think, in all honesty, what I like is the sculpture itself.”
Me? I’m partial to the granite elephants, above, that I wrote about back in September and especially to the awe-inspiring, life-size bronze elephants, below, that reside in an outdoor concourse behind Toronto’s Commerce Court (off Melinda Street). This happy family of pachiderms (Tembo, Mother of Elephants by Derrick Stephan Hudson, 2002) makes me smile every time I see them, which is probably how James Lawson feels about his elephant.