From May 3, 250 brightly coloured, life-size fibre glass elephants will be popping up all over London to highlight the plight of the endangered Asian elephant. Each elephant in the parade has been individually decorated by an artist and Kew resident Caio Locke, 30, tells Will Gore what inspired his design.

Will Gore: How did you get involved with the Elephant Parade?

Caio Locke: I submitted two designs to the charity, Elephant Family, and they liked them – I went with one of them which reflected my previous work with classic cars combined with more surrealist images.

WG: What was the idea behind the design?

CL: The concept was to have these trails of elephants proceeding into a vortex and then you have human activity reflected in cars and traffic. It is race between them and it looks like the elephants are disappearing and it is posing the question, will mankind let this continue?

WG: How did you go about putting your idea into practice?

CL: I only had about two weeks to paint it. They sent the fibre glass elephant and all the paints – it was all very well prepared.

WG: Are you happy with how it turned out?

CL: For some reason it just seems to work. I found I could distort things and play around. The shape of the elephant really helped make the design and the classic car form worked well with the distortion.

WG: Are environmental issues important to you?

CL: I have a family link in that my father runs a nature reserve in Brazil and before this project I was wondering if there was a way I could involve myself in helping the environment while carrying on with my artistic work. It is amazing to think that in Thailand at the turn of the last century there were 300,000 elephants and now there are only about 1,500 living in the wild.

WG: How did you become a full-time artist?

CL: At school I learned how to do etching and then I did an art foundation course at Richmond College when I switched to painting. I continued to paint while going to work in law for a few years. That was useful in helping engender a work ethic and a discipline for my career as an artist.

Caio Locke’s elephant will be positioned next to Bank tube station from May 3. For more details, visit and