13 | Elephant Wanalee
Artist Wanalee with Tiam
She was born at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Thailand.
When she was very young she used to tease people and was rather naughty. Today she is so sweet and very friendly with humans. She enjoys eating rather more than working, but she ‘works’ off the excess energy by walking and running alot. She loves to spread hay on her head, which makes her rather messy at times. As if she’s aware of her looks, she often takes a bath by herself in the nearby lake and when she does that her mahout has difficulty ordering her out again. If he shouts at her she doesn’t like it and runs away to the plantations: a little Princess indeed!
Wanalee is referred to as a Princess for better reasons too, as she is actually a special ‘Royal’ elephant, having been lucky enough to be adopted by Her Royal Highness Princess Galayani, the elder sister of His Majesty the King of Thailand.
Wanalee is an internationally famous elephant artist. She became the best selling artist in 2005, a position that she held right through to 2009 and she has held the top three positions since then. Her style has evolved in a very interesting manner and she adjusts it at will, alternating between a very free flowing expression with a rich combination of vertical, horizontal and lateral strokes and then occasionally producing a more studied basket or ‘nestlike’ image with the brushstrokes ending in a flourish toward the middle of the paper. Both styles are very popular with collectors.
Wanalee’s mahout is Tiam Chaikeaw, who was born in Phrae and started working as a mahout in 1993 at the age of 28. Tiam is married to Somkid and they have two children.