Gentoo brings Elmer to the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

03 July 2019

Sunderland housing association Gentoo will bring a unique sculpture to the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens as part of Elmer’s Great North Parade.

The parade will welcome a spectacular art trail featuring 50 individually designed elephants based on the much-loved children’s character, Elmer the patchwork elephant. It will raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice, which provides specialist care for North East adults, young people and children with incurable conditions, as well as support for their family and loved ones.

Gentoo’s elephant – called ‘Flora’ – will be located outside the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from 21 August to 1 November 2019. It is being designed by contemporary artist, Sue Guthrie, and will feature super-bright neon flowers surrounded by detailed black and white foliage.

Flora is one of seven sculptures coming to Sunderland for Elmer’s Great North Parade. Alongside Gentoo, sponsors SCS, The Foundation of Light, Sunderland Business Group, Stagecoach, The Bridges, Sunderland City Council, Everyone Active, Sunderland BID and Nexus will bring three sculptures to the city centre, three to the beach and one to the Beacon of Light, creating a fantastic art trail across Wearside.

Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Gentoo, said: “We are proud to support this great cause to help St Oswald’s Hospice provide such valuable support to people when they really need it.

“Flora caught our eye immediately and we thought her stunning design was a perfect fit for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

“We’re thrilled to be part of a fantastic trail of seven sculptures across Sunderland and I hope everyone takes the chance to see these unique pieces of art when the parade arrives in August.”

Jo Cunningham, Exhibitions, Collections and Archives Manager at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, said: "We are all very excited to welcome Flora the elephant outside Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens this August.

“It’s fantastic to be part of Elmer’s Great North Parade. No doubt our own family audiences, people across Sunderland and visitors to the city will all be delighted to get the opportunity to see Flora and be part of the trail featuring such a huge icon of children’s literature."

Sue Guthrie is working on Flora’s design now and it will be unveiled in full with the other 50 artworks when the parade is launched on Wednesday 21 August. A range of Elmer-themed events and activities will take place across Sunderland during the parade, encouraging Wearsiders to learn more about Elmer’s message of embracing friendship and celebrating difference.