Wild in Art director Charlie Langhorne gives us a glimpse into the work behind the initiative.
The Snowdog Art Trails were a significant undertaking for all parties. After the rights were granted from Damian Treece, brand manager for The Snowman at Penguin Random House, Wild in Art looked for two charities and two locations to work in. Brighton was the first, obvious choice as it features on The Snowman film as an iconic animated sequence. Author and illustrator of The Snowman book, Raymond Briggs lives nearby and Brighton is also my hometown.
Wild in Art was also keen to spread the impact of its popular art trails across the UK and identified the North East as an area in which it had not undertaken much work.
Having decided on the areas, two charities were approached about being partners for the projects and the Martlets in Brighton and St Oswalds in Tyne and Wear signed up. Community is at the heart of Wild in Art projects and both charities are well respected and well-loved in their local communities through the hospice care that they provide.
Working with Wild in Art, the charities then needed to raise sponsorship for the project. Companies both North and South were keen to be involved, many having seen the success of other Wild in Art events around the country and each of the 100 Snowdogs secured a sponsor.
One of the challenges of creating an event of this scale is planning the logistical movement of the sculptures around the country. I usually organise this myself with sculptures loaded safely in the back of my pick up truck and trailer.
Driving along the nation’s motorways with two Snowdogs on the trailer is clearly an usual sight, and I am often followed by enthusiastic drivers taking pictures of the dogs on the move. On more than one occasion I have also been driving down the road to hear the sculptures being talked about on the radio as people have reported seeing them on the move.
In total 100+ Snowdogs have been created and the impact in both cities has been immense. From queues of people waiting to have a ‘selfie with each dog, tagging #snowdogselfie across social media channels to the more tangible economic impact that each event is having.
Communities and businesses have been inspired to get involved with spin off projects and fundraisers including ‘Pooches on the Prom’ a sponsored walk organised by 100 local dog owners, which took place along Brighton seafront, inspired by the Snowdogs.
The Tyne and Wear Metro launched a Twitter campaign, asking commuters to suggest canine-inspired names for all 60 stations on the system. The best suggestions were turned into a new Metro map for the trail, with stops including Muttley Bay, Hewoof and Unifursity.
There has been fabulous feedback and coverage from individuals and families alike enjoying the Snowdogs. Perhaps the most heartwarming of all was the story of David Birdsey from North Tyneside who had been living in virtual isolation following the death of his brother and father.
He suffers from a spinal degenerative condition, but had been a life long fan of Raymond Briggs and was determined to see at least one of the Snowdog sculptures. Having visited the Dogfish sculpture at The Blue Reef aquarium, David then went on to tick off almost every sculpture on the trail map. It’s an incredibly heartwarming story and captures perfectly the spirit of public art and how important it is to ensure accessibility to all sectors of society.
The Snowman and The Snowdog is unique brand, loved across generations. When you combine this with a fully immersive experience, which has allowed local communities to engage throughout and simultaneously raise funds for much-loved charities, then you have a very powerful and undoubtedly successful project.
2 = number of Snowdog Art Trails in 2016. Find out what we’ve got planned for 2017 and beyond at www.snowdogarttrails.co.uk
224 = number of Snowdogs, big and small, across the trails (105 big, 119 small)
90 = number of artists commissioned to decorate giant Snowdogs
30,000 = number of school children involved in decorating the packs of small Snowdogs
300 = length in metres if all Snowdogs were placed nose to tail
60 = litres of varnish used on the sculptures
50 = number of miles of Snowdog trail
60 = number of Snowdogs tweeting
2 = number of times Roodle Snowdog has been to the pooch parlour