Artist vows ‘Ellie’ is not yet in the graveyard

Artist Carlo Lee disassembles Ellie the elephant after she was knocked down in a field north of Cost-U-Less after a two-week stay. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

It was a short life for Ellie the elephant.

For two weeks, the 8-foot-high sculpture of lumber and trash provided a spectacle for drivers on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, as she stood alone in the middle of the open field north of Cost-U-Less.

Tuesday morning, she was on her side.

By Tuesday evening, she was gone.

Creator Carlo Lee said his understanding is that workers clearing the property knocked the trash-bag pachyderm over. He said he was not contacted about moving the impromptu art installation. Efforts to reach the property owners were unsuccessful.

“As soon as it tipped over,” Mr. Lee said, “I figured it went from sculpture to trash.”

He and collaborator Kerwin Ebanks were busy disassembling the piece Tuesday afternoon, bagging up the trash used to make Ellie and pulling apart the frame.

Mr. Lee and Mr. Ebanks built the elephant – it’s unclear whether it was the African or Indian subspecies – to draw attention to the trash problem in the Cayman Islands, particularly as it relates to plastic waste. Mr. Lee found the way Ellie was pushed out of her temporary digs somewhat meaningful.

“It’s very symbolic of the way we handle most of the problems of Cayman,” he said, “we just push it to the side.”

Still, he was hopeful.

“I’m glad for a few days Ellie brought some attention to the issue,” he said. “She definitely created a discussion. We really achieved what we set out to do, which was to have a discussion. We’re glad to be part of that inspiration.”

While the elephant will be temporarily housed at Mr. Lee’s home. He’s hoping to reconstruct the sculpture at the Cayman Turtle Centre (“They host some of the animals very affected by plastics,”) or, if not that, as part of a recycled art exhibit he and some other artists are planning for October.

“Ellie will survive,” he said.

And, if not, she at least had a happy life.

“She was a celebrity and got her 15 minutes,” Mr. Lee said. “That’s all anybody can ask for as an elephant.”


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful art Carlo. Waste is the elephant in the room that we all want THIS government to finally deal with. Please get the recycling of all waste moving into full gear. Collection will need to be at least as convenient for the public as our current trash collection system to ensure full cooperation island wide. Only a handful of Caymanians (keep it up and encourage others) seem to be willing to bother with the current, incomplete recycling opportunity, which requires some effort to separate and deliver recyclables to collection hubs. I would like to see our government offices and services lead us by making full use of the recycling that is already available. A paper only bin next to the trash can at every post office would be a great start. Government buildings and schools should have receptacles for plastic bottles and aluminum cans as well as paper. Hotels, condos and restaurants (thank you to those who already do) can do the same voluntarily if they want to show responsibility for their contribution to our waste issue. Come on Cayman, step up and show pride in our beautiful island!

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