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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:34 GMT
Artful elephants rewarded
Chris Ofili with elephants
Chris Ofili: Paintings "impossible" without elephants
Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili, whose works have often employed dung contributed by elephants from London Zoo, is returning the compliment.

The artist is donating a painting to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in aid of the elephants which have provided materials and inspiration for his work.

The painting Triple Couple will be auctioned this week at New York's contemporary art fair The Armory, and is expected to fetch some 40,000.

The dung shall remain in constant supply

Chris West, Zoological Society of London
The proceeds will go to the elephants at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park - where the last remaining elephants from London Zoo were transferred last year.

Mr Ofili described the dung as "an essential component of my work" and thanked his elephantine contributors by name.

"It has been a rare honour and opportunity to get to know Mya, Layang-Layang and Dilberta over the past decade.

'Threatened species'

"It would be impossible for me to create my paintings without the elephants.

"I am delighted that the sale of my painting will benefit them in their new home and help in the conservation of this beautiful and threatened species," he said.

Chris Ofili's work
Chris Ofili's work caused a storm in the US
Elephant dung is one of many materials the artist uses in his works, which draw on collage techniques and employ acrylic paint, paper collage, glitter and map pins on canvas.

The pieces of dung are dried, lacquered, and sometimes decorated with map pins.

They can be used as supports on which the paintings rest, but are often applied to the surface of the canvas itself.

Dung featured in one of the artists' most controversial works, The Holy Virgin Mary.

The work, which portrayed a black Madonna against a backdrop of images cut from pornographic magazines, caused an outcry when the Royal Academy's Sensation show opened in New York.

Chris West, zoological director at ZSL, said: "Chris Ofili's offer is incredibly generous, and all the money will be spent on further developments in the new elephant facilities at Whipsnade.

"The association between ourselves and Chris will not be affected now that the elephants have moved to Whipsnade."

Mr West added: "The dung shall remain in constant supply."

See also:

01 Nov 01 | England
Elephants leave London
30 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Museums condemn New York mayor
28 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Hillary steps into dung art row
23 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Sensation sparks New York storm
03 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Elephant dung artist scoops award
01 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Chris Ofili profile
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