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10th July - 1st Sept 2024

Get ready for Chichester and Arundel’s first large scale outdoor art trail!

Nursery rhymes. Retro sweets. Local landmarks and native wildlife. These are just some of the inspirations behind the 10 individually designed and decorated owl sculptures coming to Arundel this summer.

The Big Hoot is the first event of its kind for West Sussex, which will see 30 sculptures take their positions across Chichester and Arundel for a fun, free and family-friendly public art event.

The event is a collaboration between Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice and Wild in Art, which has staged similar events across the UK and internationally. It will raise awareness and funds for Chestnut Tree House, which is just outside Arundel.

We know that Arundel is a town of artists, its reputation rightly bolstered by our annual Gallery Trail. The Big Hoot Trail offers a new way to experience art in our beautiful surroundings – with the town’s landmarks becoming the backdrop.

Children will enjoy ‘collecting’ each owl and unlocking rewards, while each sculpture will have its own story to tell.

Alongside the main event is a Learner Programme, The Little Hoot, for schools and clubs. Both the town’s primary schools have signed up and the children have been busy submitting their designs.

Their finished works will be displayed in public for the duration of the trail before going home to roost, a lasting reminder of each school’s contribution to a special event for our town. It’s an exciting opportunity for children from ACE and St Philip’s to have their work viewed by the public – to become part of the history of the town.

Artist Lucy Hebden is a Wild in Art trail veteran, whose sculptures have appeared around the country. Her Arundel owl will be her 13th trail and although her design is still top secret, she reveals that it has a nocturnal theme, conjuring the magic and mystery of night time. Lucy combines her freelance work with her part-time job as an art teacher and values the impact of these public art trails for young people.

“Most people think they have to go to a gallery to engage with art, but this is a chance to see massive sculptures in your local area – and all for free! As an artist it’s very special because you know it’s going to be there 24/7 and people are interacting with your work. It’s lovely when people contact you and you see them enjoying it. The sculptures are auctioned off at the end and on a couple of occasions, I’ve had people get in touch to say they bought the sculpture and it’s in their garden.”

Another trail artist, Marnie Maurri, is bringing florals into her design – with rich, dark colours and flashes of gold. Marnie describes participating in the trail as being “Just a total joy, from start to finish. I’ve met loads of new artists and that’s lovely, especially if you work alone. Once your design is painted, it all comes to life. You then have the joy of seeing how happy it makes people and how they take it to heart. People are very protective of these beautiful sculptures.”

The Big Hoot runs from 10 July to 1 September 2024.

There will be paper maps available from the Chestnut Tree House charity shop in Arundel, as well as Arundel Museum and Arundel Library.

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Photography: Cam Parfitt