Being asked to work on an Elephant for the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust was a huge privilege. It’s easy for most of us to forget that a traumatic brain injury could strike anyone at any time. I was often overwhelmed by the tenacity, humour and courage of both the residents and staff. For this Elephant, meeting with the residents and brainstorming what it means to be part of the trust was the starting point. To my amazement, people voiced no self pity or negativity. I wanted the design and its implementation to incorporate this and as many ideas and abilities as possible. The Elephant also needed to be accessible for everyone who wanted to contribute to the painting. It is very much a people’s elephant and the layers of colour constantly evolved up until the very last day.

I was hugely impressed with the positivity and determination of the residents of all ages to engage with this project and I feel they’re represented wonderfully by “The most Lovely, Fabulous, Beautiful, Incredible, Talented elephant in the world”.

Justine Ottey is a painter based in Ōtautahi. This is her fourth sculpture trail for Wild in Art. She has completed both her own designs and collaborations with the recipient charities. Justine’s most recent work with the Laura Fergusson Brain Injury Trust has been a significant highlight. She has thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to meet a wide range of talented artists and designers and was deeply impressed by their determination and vision.

Coordinating the concept and design with the Laura Fergusson residents of Te Orewai and Ilam has showcased their individual creativity. Opportunities for painting by residents and contributions by staff and family members, added to the depth and visual richness of the finished elephant. It is a true representation of the many people involved and absolutely “The most Lovely, Fabulous, Beautiful, Incredible Talented elephant in the world”.

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