Elephants in Boscombe

A NEW large-scale mural that has been unveiled on along Boscombe high street pays homage to the town’s bygone era. The 29 metre wide painting by Krishna Malla, commissioned by Bournemouth Emerging Arts Fringe (BEAF), is displayed on the front of the Sovereign Centre .

Krishna Malla, commonly known as Tech Moon, was commissioned to create the mural for this year’s BEAF festival. His celebrated 2019 mural of a large scale dachshund, which is still on view in Boscombe, saw a huge response from the local community, including a group photo in front of it featuring more than 100 owners with their pet dachshunds.

The new mural has a poignant significance to the town. Looking back to the 1900s, when travelling circuses such as the Royal Italian Circus, Billy Smart’s Circus, and Chapman’s Continental Zoo Circus, brought elephants and other wild animals to the Hippodrome – now the O2 Academy – entertaining thousands of people every year.

These majestic animals would be paraded down the high street between the shows, and the parade itself became an iconic event for the town.

The painting, 29 metres wide and six metres high, shows a herd of six elephants stampeding out of the front section of the Sovereign Centre and understandably is drawing huge interest from passers-by.

Krishna says: “I want this mural to celebrate the rich history of Boscombe, and this magnificent creature, yet draw attention to animal welfare. We can marvel and appreciate the beauty of creatures such as this, immortalised across some 30 meters of wall without having to ride them in foreign countries or watch them dance in circuses.”

Festival director Carol Maund says: “As we had to postpone our festival this year, it was important to continue to support artists during lockdown and encourage creativity and the creation of art for the local community to enjoy. This mural has been part of a number of creative projects we have been delivering since the lockdown started.

“We want this mural to provide a much needed injection of positivity and celebration of the town’s history.”

Fiona McArthur from Bournemouth Coastal BID, which has been supporting BEAF, says: “Nothing quite turns the head like a herd of elephants. It is a magnificent sight and will attract visitors, which is what our retail areas really need when shops can re-open. It will also put smiles on faces.”

The mural sits above the festival’s first pop-up venue, Boscombe Arts Depot (BAD), previously the old TJ Hughes department store in the Sovereign Centre. BAD will be the hub of the festival and will house the building’s first major exhibition, 2B Human with new work from more than 20 artists commissioned by BEAF, as well as inspiring work by William Kentridge and Stuart Semple.

To celebrate the mural’s unveiling, the festival team wants the community to get involved in elephant themed activities online, including make-your-own elephant at home for kids. BEAF organisers is also inviting local people to help name the elephants. There is a poll on the BEAF website and social media channels asking the public to share their top choices of names beginning with ‘B’. The top six names will be chosen after two weeks of voting.

Visit the festival website for more details www.gotbeaf.co.uk