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.”