I thought I’d share the inspiration behind my new work ‘ Hope for the Sumatran Elephant,’ hand sculpted from porcelain, decorated with a transparent glaze.

This elephant was sculpted from porcelain and handcrafted over paper. The sculpture was left to dry over 2 weeks and after the bisque I applied a transparent glaze over the piece which brought out the colour in the blue porcelain butterflies.

Butterflies seem to be working as a running theme through my work and I think it’s a mixture of their delicacy and symbolism which resonates with me.

This piece was inspired by a traditional story, The Tolowin woman and the Butterfly man 

A woman was out one day and set her baby down in his board on the ground. She began chasing a butterfly. She could never catch it. She took off her robe and her apron and chased the butterfly until night, then she went to sleep.

She awoke and the butterfly was there. It said as she had chased it all day, perhaps she would like to chase it always. She must hold on tight to the butterfly when they went through the valley of butterflies, otherwise, she would be lost.

There were butterflies everywhere, the woman, at first, held on tightly but let go to try to catch another butterfly, but she missed, then she tried to catch another, but missed that one also. She couldn’t catch any and wandered the valley alone.

The Tolowin Woman learnt a hard lesson that cost her, her life – you cannot capture and keep beauty and freedom on this earth. 

The critically endangered Sumatran elephant is surrounded by cobalt blue butterflies. As they surround the baby elephant they symbolise change, hope and freedom as the butterflies in the story suggest they, like any other living creature cannot be captured and owned.

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