FIGURES from the worlds of politics, the arts and the wider community gathered in the village of Liddington yesterday for the much-anticipated unveiling of a very special sculpture.

The Hoarusib Bull is a lifesize portrait of a legendary elephant. He is said to have stood guard over the desert elephants on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia during the years when poaching was first becoming a problem of epidemic proportions.

The awe-inspiring piece is the work of Swindon’s own David Lomax, a world renowned sculptor who was first commissioned to create a replica of the magnificent creature at the request of the conservationist John Aspinall back in 1992.

The sculptures he created that year were cast in bronze and were 12-feet-tall and weighed four tonnes.

There were three copies, all the same and they all found homes in Los Angeles, Australia and Mexico.

But now, almost 25 years on, David has put together the original pieces of the first frame he made for the piece so that the bull may come alive once again – this time closer to home, in a green Liddington meadow.

Now made from plaster and not bronze but no less impressive, he called the return to his past work “a wonderful project of resurrection.”

Describing the moment he first set eyes on the elephant all those years ago, David said: “I found myself standing, ankle deep in some soft yielding sand, watching him emerge from behind some bushes.

“He came to rest under a large acacia tree. His trunk hung languidly down in gentle pleats towards the ground with the tip just turned up, sensitively sensing the air.

“Then his ears became alert, he’d spotted us. My heart leapt out of excitement and considerable fear.

“He remained standing there – calmly, peacefully, watching us – he had that aura of restrained power.”

Recalling a quote from the writer D H Lawrence, David said: “I felt so honoured. Indeed I was honoured, to be his guest.”

Robert Buckland, the MP for South Swindon, paid tribute to David Lomax and his work, but also to Swindon which he said should be more confident in speaking proudly of its arts and culture credentials.

“I’m proud that we are doing this here, in the borough of Swindon,” he said.

“We’re a town that people tend to overlook, or forget about, or regard sometimes with an embarrassed shrug.

“Those of us who know our town know that nothing could be further from the truth. We are a place of surprises, a place of contrasts and of hidden talents.

“But I think it’s time that we drop the word hidden and start to talk more loudly about what we are capable of and what we are already doing in terms of our contribution to arts and culture.

“David Lomax is a pivotal example of that, he has been working for many years now at the top of his art and he has chosen to do that here, in Swindon.”

The unveiling ceremony brought together the worlds of art and conservation, with the proceeds going towards the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

More modest pieces from David Lomax’s sculpture collection were displayed in a grand barn adjacent to the new site of the bull elephant.

Refreshments were provided by the local scout troop and ambassadors from the David Shepherd foundation spoke with guests about their work with orphaned elephants in Africa today.