Thirty giant owl sculptures have swooped onto Bath’s world famous Royal Crescent to launch the city’s newest sculpture trail.
The Minerva’s Owls of Bath event will see 85 individually-decorated owls and owlets located in and around the World Heritage city, with the aim to celebrate Bath’s Roman heritage and raise funds for local charities.
It is the latest public art sculpture trail from the team behind the hugely popular Lions of Bath in 2010 and King Bladud’s Pigs in 2008 – one of the first major sculpture trails of its kind in the UK.
The new trail will take place between 25 June and 10 September 2018.
Minerva’s Owls event organiser, Megan Witty, said: “The Minerva’s Owls trail has inspired so much originality from local businesses and schools, and some wonderful new partnerships have been forged between businesses, schools and charities.
“After all these months of preparation, it’s wonderful to finally reveal these eye-catching supersized owls to the public and to inspire visitors to come to our beautiful World Heritage city for some feather-filled fun this summer!”
During the three-month event, visitors will have a hoot spotting the sculptures in tourist hotspots like Pulteney Bridge and The Circus, outside Bath’s best shops, restaurants and hotels, and residing in surrounding towns such as Bradford-on-Avon, Newton St Loe, Corsham, and Street.
The project takes inspiration from the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, Minerva, to whom the Roman Baths Temple was dedicated in the 1st-Century AD, and whose symbol was the all-seeing owl of wisdom.
Each owl has been sponsored by businesses/organisations from across the region who have worked alongside some of the best artists from the South West and beyond, to create an array of colourful, bespoke designs.
Amongst the owls visible during the trail include:
- Owl and the Pussy Cat for headline sponsor SouthGate Bath, designed by Jane Callan
- Emilysponsored by Norland College who is named after the founder of the college, which is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary and has been decorated by Vera Carbin
- IsamBIRD Kingdom BrunOWLsponsored by Great Western Railway, created by Rita Lazaro, which will be flying off on tour to Paddington Station, Swindon, and Bristol Temple Meads before landing at Bath Spa station in August
- Bird of Play, an interactive owl with a kaleidoscope eye to peer through to see unique multi-faceted images, designed and sponsored by Complete Control
- Festiv’Owl, sponsored by Emery, the official installers of the flock, and designed by Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown
- Digitowl, designed by John Gould and complete with virtual reality headset which lights up at night, on behalf of Bath Quays
- Artis, sponsored by The ArtBar at The Abbey Hotel, designed by Emma Taylor with stunning illustrations of Bath interspersed with bright cocktail imagery
Other artists with work on display as part of the trail include wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham, Bristol street artist Cheba, and BP Portrait Award artist Richard Twose.
Several schools including The Paragon, Kingswood Prep, and Weston All Saints Primary have sponsored and decorated a collection of smaller owlets. These will nest permanently at the schools after the trail finishes, remaining as a legacy of the Minerva’s Owls of Bath trail.
At the end of the event, all the owls will be gathered together for a final ‘Hoot Farewell’ weekend on 6 and 7 October, before being auctioned off to raise money for four local charities – the new Royal United Hospital Cancer Centre, the Bath Young Carers Centre, the Roman Baths Archway Project, and the UK Little Owl Project, which is based in Bath.
Guy Henderson, centre manager at SouthGate Bath, said: “Minerva’s Owls of Bath is going to be the talk of Bath for the next three months as residents and visitors either seek out or stumble across these magnificent artworks in all corners of our city and beyond.
“We’re very proud to be headline sponsor of this great initiative. There’s no better time to discover all the delights Bath has to offer this summer, including the stunning wisteria archways we also have installed here at SouthGate Bath.”