The world’s first balloon dog sculpture art trail is unleashed in Swindon this weekend and it’s FREE to visit!
From 15th July until 3rd September 2023, 72 individually-painted dog sculptures – the giant Swindogs and smaller super-cute Swinpups - will be dotted around the town for everyone to enjoy, just in time for the summer holidays.
Children’s cookery author and dog lover Annabel Karmel MBE helped launch The Big Dog Art Trail this week when she joined a selection of these pawsome canines at Lydiard Park in Swindon for a dog show like no other.
The Big Dog Art Trail features 30 Swindogs, with stunning designs created by national and local artists, and 42 Swinpups created by local schools, youth and community groups. The unique designs, unveiled for the first time this weekend include a giant hot dog, a Swindog featuring hundreds of colourful butterflies, a sculpture covered entirely in pennies and a steam punk Swindog designed by one of the youngest ever artists on a Wild in Art trail.
The Swindogs have all been sponsored and paid for by the local business community and Swindon Borough Council has supported the trail’s Learning Programme for schools.
Covering a 16-mile trail around town, this unmissable FREE family event will take locals and visitors on a tour of Swindon’s finest landmarks, retailers, streets, parks and public spaces and is fully accessible.
The Big Dog Art Trail is a community project presented by Julia’s House and Wild in Art to raise vital funds for the Wiltshire-based children’s hospice charity, which provides care and support for seriously ill local children and their families at its hospice in Devizes or in families’ homes.
Annabel Karmel is a long-standing supporter of Julia’s House and patron of the charity. Having lost her first child at a young age, Annabel understands the value of respite in times of heartache and stress:
“My three month old daughter died from encephalitis in hospital, but I would have liked to have had somewhere like the Julia’s House children’s hospice to come and take her,” says Annabel. “In those times when you feel so desperate, to have a room where you can be with your child when they’re coming to the end of their life, would have been very comforting. The work Julia’s House does to support children with life limiting conditions and their families is amazing and I urge everyone to support The Big Dog Art Trail and this fantastic cause.”
After the trail ends on 3rd September, the complete pack of Swindogs and Swinpups will be brought together for a grand Farewell Weekend on 16th and 17th September at Swindon’s historic STEAM Museum, before they are auctioned on 19th September. All of the money raised will go to Julia’s House, which relies almost entirely on public funding to provide its lifeline of care to local families.
“We have been working on the trail for over a year with local businesses, the council, local and nationally renowned artists and around 40 schools – it has been an amazing community partnership,” said Mike Bartlett, Deputy CEO at Julia’s House. “We’re so excited to be revealing all 72 sculptures, including our own Julia’s House Swindog, which has been created by the children at the Wiltshire hospice, together with local artist Hannah Dosanjh.
“It’s going to be a great free event for everyone in Swindon this summer and a big visitor draw to the town. We’re so grateful to everyone who has got behind the trail and helped to make it happen. The money it will raise will make a huge difference to the life changing care we provide to seriously ill children and families in Swindon and across Wiltshire.”
For more information about the trail, sponsors and artists, or to download the map, app and education packs, visit The Big Dog Art Trail website or follow @bigdogarttrail on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter.
Julia’s House is a Wiltshire and Dorset-based children’s hospice charity that provides specialist respite care as well as practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition.
The charity has been helping local families since 2003. Julia Perks was a dedicated paediatric nurse whose dream was to develop a support network for families struggling to care for a life-limited child without any help or respite. Although Julia’s House is named after Julia Perks, it was her friend Mike Wise who founded the charity. Julia sadly died of cancer before her dream became a reality but Mike, along with a small group of supporters, took up the baton.
Today, the charity provides essential services including care and play therapy for children, support for their families, bereavement support and end of life care, across two counties. This regular respite and support, plus emergency and end-of-life care, is provided completely free to families thanks to the generosity of the local community. Julia’s House relies on public donations, fundraising and legacies for around 92 per cent of the money needed to run its vital service.
Julia’s House currently supports around 200 families across Wiltshire and Dorset and the number is rising, as medical and scientific advances mean more children are being born and living longer with life-limiting conditions.
The charity’s mission is to reach more children with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions and to set the gold standard in flexible, bespoke care that supports the whole family.
Find out more about Julia’s House here: https://www.juliashouse.org