The 'Padhchinh' paintings are a unique piece of art, born of the collaboration of Alpana Ahuja and the rescued elephants at Wildlife SOS, as part of the artists' efforts to support the elephant community. Translating into 'footprint' in Sanskrit, it symbolizes the elephants' march towards a better future. Leaving behind their chains and abused pasts, the elephants forge new friendships and bask in the love and care they are showered with at the Wildlife SOS' Elephant Care and Conservation Centre (ECCC) at Mathura, India. 100% of proceeds from this series go to the Wildlife SOS ECCC.
The first Padhchinhs were created by Elephant Phoolkali. Each footprint was taken with tremendous patience, subject entirely to Phoolkali's decision to participate in the process, largely influenced by bananas and other treats! She continues to be a very patient and cooperative elephant, but is sometimes moody and trumpets for her best friend Maya to join her, who is quick to respond and obeys. Their mahout, Asim oversees the creation of each Padhchinh, signaling for breaks for the elephants to bond over their treats.
Baby elephant, Peanut, is another volunteer Alpana has worked with. A curious and enthusiastic participant, Peanut is a jumpy one, sometimes creating multiple footprints on a single canvas. Her artistic ability also translates into the playful whips she throws on her mahout, Gulzaar and the artist, with her tail. One lucky canvas even has a mark of her tail 'whipping' across it. Some other Padhchinhs have bits of grass, leaves or elephant poop (yes!) embedded in them. The artist tries to preserve these bits of nature as they are an integral part of the elephants environment. Each piece is a unique burst of hues and the varying pressure of the elephants foot on canvas creates patterns of colour that cannot be recreated with a brush. The process involves a preparation of backgrounds on canvas and is foregrounded by the elephant footprints. It ends off with a scrubbing of the elephants foot, so as to remove every bit of paint applied.