Bristol has gone Gromit mad – and I love it. I am of course talking about “Gromit Unleashed” – the arts trail that has graced the city, and has people taking to the streets with their maps and cameras. 80 gromits, 10 weeks, 1 city. Simple. People are going crazy for this fantastic project, and it has given tourism in the city a real boost. My family, who are from Hampshire, made the journey this weekend to spot some with us. It was great fun and people were out in their masses to see these lovely sculptures. The campaign to promote the trail has been amazing – it is well publicised and covered in social media, supported by local businesses and excited Bristolians alike. There is even an app you can download to help you on your quest. And the best part? At the end of the 10 weeks, the Gromits will be auctioned off to raise money for The Grand Appeal – the charity at Bristol Children’s Hospital. Lovely job.
I am no stranger to these arts trails – the first time I heard about such a thing was when I lived in Sheffield. Larkin25 was a commemoration of the poet Philip Larkin, and to mark the 25th Anniversary of his death. We traipsed about the streets of Hull to spot as many as we could (with a quick trip to The Deep of course!) It was such a lovely idea, I especially like the thought that it could have spurred people on the read some of Larkin’s work, a great way to promote poetry and literature to a new generation.
Then of course there was the WOW! Gorillas of Bristol. These loveable statues were an initiative by Bristol Zoo to raise awareness of the extinction crisis facing primates. (also, it was the Zoo’s 175th birthday) These statues were auctioned off at the end of the project and the proceeds went to Bristol Zoo Gardens and The Grand Appeal. I have also heard talk of statues of elephants in London, and I am sure other cities have done something similar.
These visits even gave us inspiration for our centrepieces at our wedding – we loved the idea of an animal with different patterns/colours – and chose ducks for our big day. Each table had a name and theme related to the duck. Our guests really liked the idea and we were told that nobody had ever had ducks before!
So why do we love arts trails so much? They bring communities and businesses together, celebrate a city and give it an extra purpose, they are a great way to send out a message or raise awareness of something, they make art accessible to everyone, they can be a way to raise money for charity but most of all…. they are really good fun!