Jephson elephants settle in to public acclaim

SOME unusual newcomers to Jephson Gardens were given an enthusiastic welcome by Leamington residents this week.

Nicholas Dimbleby's 1988 three-piece seat sculpture Elephant Circle was originally placed outside the northern entrance to the Royal Priors shopping centre.

It has now been modified to include a newly recast bronze elephant and moved to the area of grass beside the Restaurant In The Park.

The work commemorates the town's connections with the exotic animals going back to when elephants were first brought to Leamington by world famous trainer Sam Lockhart in the 19th century - and washed in the Leam.

The scupture will be officially unveiled outside the restaurant on May 24 from noon with a poetry reading by Warwick Poet Laureate Jane Holland.

But it was already getting the thumbs up from park-users this week.

Simon Firth, 35, a catering manager who works in Leamington, said: "I think it's amazing. It's great for Leamington to bring back some history, and it will be a good attraction. It's unusual as well."

Maria Ozaslan, 28, a Crown Terrace housewife said: "It's nice - a lot better than the eyesore by the parish church!

"It could even have been put somewhere less out the way, maybe on a bigger path, so more people could see it."

Retired David Tyler, 79, of Lillington Road, thought the elephants were elegant, while 20-year-old Grace Allen thought the story behind the seats would prove popular. She said: "It's nice that it's a reference to the history of Leamington. I think people would be interested to learn about it - and there's an information board there to explain it."

Children and families can also enjoy elephant mask-making workshops at the Pump Room from 2pm to 4pm and the chance to meet and ride Snowdrop, a life-size mechanical elephant.

All activities are free and refreshments will be provided. Call 742700.