David Yarrow, ‘Bunga Bunga’, 2017, Isabella Garrucho Fine Art

Series: Elephants

Amboseli, Kenya 2017
Tim is probably Africa’s most famous bull elephant — a colossal big tusker that has drawn fans to Amboseli for many years. His high profile is however now coupled with a low presence in Amboseli. Recently he is spending his days outside the park and not many have had the chance to see him and his 130 pound tusks.

In October 2017, I made the appropriate arrangements to work with rangers in the wooded area where Tim was known to be. To reach him by day break from our camp by the dry lake of Amboseli required a four am wake up call and a long drive on dodgy roads through basic farming communities. I can be no more specific than that for obvious reasons.

I was joined on the drive to the rangers by my Creative Director – Alex Ames and an Italian conservationist – Nora Giulianini, whom I had met at our recent show at the Maddox Gallery in London. Much of the journey was before dawn and to pass the time the conversation moved somewhat randomly onto Italian politics and the life and times of Silvio Berlusconi. I playfully suggested that there was a link to our whereabouts as both the former Italian Prime minister and the big tuskers had high testosterone and both bossed the world they lived in. The difference, I added, was that the big elephants imperious rulership was legitimate!

It became the rather infantile joke of the journey that Silvio was a human elephant of questionable scruples and we decided that if Berlusconi could return as an animal to be in his next life, it would certainly be as a big tusker elephant. Whether of course he would be accepted by his peers, who clearly all boast more majesty and manners than him, is a moot point.

This dynamic portrait of a charging Tim was taken a couple of hours later from the ground up with a small telephoto. There is a real sense of dangerous proximity and this was the reality – as I was both close and unprotected. But the benefits of this approach are evident – it is always worth trying to impose oneself on the situation, so long as you are accompanied by animal experts – and I was.

We decided the name of the image on the way home. It was a no brainer for us.

About David Yarrow