It began, and ended with a rocket.

 Arriving overnight, appearing to have crash-landed into the middle of the road, there were few clues to what was about to happen. A giant girl and a giant elephant had arrived unannounced for four days of adventures across London.

Artichoke had worked in secret for seven years, planning, convincing and cajoling the public authorities to make the project happen. For the first time, streets normally reserved for state occasions or sporting events were taken over by art. At Trafalgar Square, St James’s Park, Horse Guards Parade and Piccadilly, audiences followed the journey of a giant girl and her travelling companions, the Sultan and the Elephant. Along the way they discovered cars that had been ‘sewn’ into tarmac with a giant needle and waved the girl past as she enjoyed a tour atop a red London bus. They were sprayed with water from the Elephant’s trunk. Leaving in the rocket she arrived in after four magical days, the girl finally disappeared in a puff of smoke.

The Sultan’s Elephant changed the landscape for outdoor art forever and catapulted Artichoke into the public eye.

The Sultan's Elephant
The Sultan's Elephant, Royal de Luxe, 2006. Produced by Artichoke in London. Photo by Matthew Andrews

The Sultan's Elephant Statistics

  • Pedestrian crossings removed


  • Members of Royal de Luxe


  • UK production team

    150 people

  • Reclaimed poplar used to construct the elephant


  • Height of the elephant


  • Weight of the elephant

    42 tonnes

  • Speed

    1.5km per hour

  • Leather used to make the elephant’s ears


  • Number of volunteers


  • Height of the little girl


  • Audience

    1 million (BBC estimate)

  • Miles of streets closed on route


'I have the strangest feeling today, something in between grief and joy, sad that I will never see that beautiful Little Giant or that gargantuan Elephant and happy that I had the privilege to meet them. Thank you for reminding me how to be a child and for realising that cynicism is not a way of life!'

~ Stuart Hogg, South Heath, Buckinghamshire ~