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This is why Chilham was invaded by elephants

By Bess Browning

An artist has been revealed as the brains behind the appearance of hundreds of mystery elephants in Chilham on Friday.

More than 1,000 elephant models were placed on walls and benches, in front of people’s homes, in a pub garden, on top of people’s cars and at the school gates.

Residents had no idea why or how they appeared but we can exclusively reveal the truth.

Residents have no idea where the elephants have come from
Residents have no idea where the elephants have come from

Jill Holder from Faversham planned the idea for more than four months and wanted to bring the community together by “dropping some magic into people’s lives”.

The international-selling artist heard from a friend the village had lost its community spirit.

She said; “Many people have no idea how important art is. It’s everywhere.

VIDEO: Jill Holder was the woman behind it all...

“I wanted the village to wake up to something magical.

“Small villages no longer have shared memories and I wanted everyone to share the elephants and to bring people together.”

More than 1,000 elephants have been left around the village.
More than 1,000 elephants have been left around the village.

Ms Holder worked with a team of nine people from 3am on Friday and placed the elephants in designated spots around the village.

She researched the area and marked places on a map where they couldn’t leave the ornaments. It was meticulously planned.

Jill Holder with one of her elephants. Picture: Ruth Cuerden
Jill Holder with one of her elephants. Picture: Ruth Cuerden

The 65-year-old said: “We met at 3am at the fire station and everyone put their elefest badges on – these were to let everyone know we were part of a team and not doing anything sinister, just in case somebody called the police.

“Then they went off and each person put out more than 100 elephants – it took us nearly three hours.

“It’s a tiny spark and a really big idea.”

They've been left hanging from signs. Picture: Andy Jones
They've been left hanging from signs. Picture: Andy Jones

The mother-of-one has collected ornamental elephants since she was 16.

“I’m fascinated with them as each one is so different. I got my first one when I was 16 and I’m now 65!

“I got quite a lot of them from a boot fair and it took a week to get them ready and cleaned up for the event.

“They all had to be wrapped in something that wouldn’t be noisy when we were placing them around the village.”

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