TT2 Limited, the operator of the Tyne Tunnels, is transforming the northbound side of its North Tyneside entrance into a colourful addition to Elmer’s Great North Parade by welcoming Elenora the Explorer as a nine-week installation.

The campervan-themed elephant sculpture, created by Cullercoats artist Joanne Wishart, will have pride of place close to the tunnels, set against a mural designed and painted by another local artist, Mark Shields. The backdrop, painted directly onto the TT2 administration building, depicts a North East coastal landscape, featuring Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island and St Mary’s Lighthouse.

TT2 staff and several companies from both sides of the River Tyne donated both their time and resources to support TT2 Limited in its endeavour to make Elenora the Explorer a tourist experience, including Jewson North Shields, Easigrass Gateshead, Chevron Traffic Management, St Astier Consulting Contractors and The Great North East Coffee Company.

Children from Cragside Primary School and Burnside College created Elmer pictures, and the team at TT2 chose ten winning designs, which have been made into vinyl banners to be displayed at the Wallsend exit to the Tyne Tunnels, near the sculpture.

The firm has also painted elephant tracks leading from the recently re-opened pedestrian and cyclist tunnel, to help visitors on foot or bike to find their way to Elenora.

Phil Smith, CEO of TT2 Limited, said: “We’re delighted to be part of Elmer’s Great North Parade, and we think Elenora the Explorer is going to be a lovely addition. Exhibits that showcase local artists and engage firms from across the region are essential for creating a positive community and to remind visitors about all the fantastic attractions we have on our doorstep.

“The Tyne Tunnels are a gateway to both sides of the River Tyne, and allow our customers to quickly and easily get to unique venues, such as The Customs House in South Shields, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, and Sage Gateshead, which are all joining us as part of the parade. We’re thrilled that the Tunnels will not only be part of the journey, but also one of the destinations for eager elephant spotters.”

Joanne Wishart, the artist responsible for the Elenora design, said: “As an artist with a gallery and studio on the seafront at Cullercoats, I’m normally inspired by the coast, so creating a more vehicular-themed design for the Tyne Tunnels team was a challenge, but one I was happy to take on. I’m really proud of my design and can’t wait to see her against Mark Shields’ amazing backdrop.

“There’s going to be a selection of giant games, deckchairs and a grass car, which will make it a fun outing for all the family, and a great opportunity for some elephant selfies.”

Elenora the Explorer will be at Tyne Tunnels from 21 August for nine weeks as part of Elmer’s Great North Parade. Follow the official Elenora the Explorer twitter feed @ElenoraExplorer.

Elmer’s Great North Parade is presented by St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, working in partnership with creative producers Wild in Art. The Parade will also be supported by a region-wide learning programme for schools and children’s groups.