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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Elephant 'self-portrait' on show
Picture by an elephant
One of the pictures said to have been painted by an elephant
Pictures which were painted by elephants have gone on display at an Edinburgh gallery.

Art graduate Victoria Khunapramot, 26, has brought the paintings from Thailand to the Dundas Gallery on Dundas Street.

They include "self-portraits" by Paya, who is said to be the only elephant to have mastered his own likeness.

Paya is one of six elephants whose keepers have taught them how to hold a paintbrush in their trunks. They drop the brush when they want a new colour.

Mrs Khunapramot, from Newington, said: "Many people cannot believe that an elephant is capable of producing any kind of artwork, never mind a self-portrait.

"But they are very intelligent animals and create the entire paintings with great gusto and concentration within just five or 10 minutes - the only thing they cannot do on their own is pick up a paintbrush, so it gets handed to them.

"They are trained by artists who fine-tune their skills, and they paint in front of an audience in their conservation village, leaving no one in any doubt that they are authentic elephant creations."

Elephant painting

Mrs Khunapramot, who set up the Thai Fine Art company after studying the history of art in St Andrews and business management at Edinburgh's Napier University, said it took about a month to train the animals to paint.

Elephant expert Dr Joyce Poole, who has studied the animals for 30 years, said she owned an elephant painting but had not come across animals painting their own images.

The Oslo-based scientist said: "I have seen elephants painting, but it was very free-flow.

"It's certainly capable of drawing an elephant, and could be trained, but might not really understand what it was doing."

See some of the elephants' paintings

Elephants brush up on new skills
22 Dec 98 |  Asia-Pacific

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