Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Very Cute Art Trail: Shaun in the City

I went on a slightly different Nice Day Out this week - sheep-spotting along the Shaun in the City trail!

Not heard of Shaun in the City? "This spring and summer, Aardman’s internationally-renowned character Shaun the Sheep stars in two ewe-nique public arts trails across London and Bristol: Shaun in the City! 120 giant Shaun the Sheep sculptures, created by artists, designers and celebrities, are grazing green spaces and iconic locations across London and Bristol, before going to auction to raise funds for Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Charity and The Grand Appeal, supporting children in hospitals across the UK."

The London trail features a flock of 50 sculptures and is on now, running until 25th May. The Bristol trail will star another 70 sculptures and run from 6th July to 31st August. All 120 Shauns will be exhibited in September before being auctioned... but until then, the only way to see them all is to go sheep-spotting!

You can pick up a free paper map at various points along the trail (see the FAQ here for more info) or buy the Shaun in the City app for Apple or Android (this costs £1.49, with all the proceeds going to the charities). As well as following the trails you can help raise money for the charities with these fundraising ideas, or buy Shaun in the City merchandise in the online shop or at the barrow in Covent Garden or at Wallace and Gromit’s Charity Shop at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol.

The Shauns have been helpfully arranged into four main trails, with a few extra "lost sheep" scattered across the city, which makes it easy to find lots of them in a day - though I didn't follow the trails exactly as marked. If you do them yourself, please note that the estimated times given for completing each trail are not very accurate! It takes a while to find your way to each sculpture's location, spot it, ooh over the design, take a photo and chat to other people out doing the trail, as well as enjoy the landmarks, nice shops, etc. that you pass along the way ... even if you're not taking lots of photos for your blog, haha.

This is a looooong photo-heavy post but I hope you'll enjoy the pics and maybe it'll inspire you to try the London trail yourself, or make plans to check out the Bristol trail this summer.

I don't own a smartphone, so I started my day of sheep-hunting by heading to Covent Garden to pick up a trail map, wander round the market and peek into all the fancy shop windows.


There are two Shauns in Covent Garden: Candy Baa and Another One Rides the Bus. The bus is, of course, going to Woolwich. 

A few streets away...

... I found Flash! ...

... and Paradise Bunch, popping into Magma along the way.

Next I headed to Somerset House, which I'd previously visited in the winter when the central courtyard was covered with an ice rink.

It was lovely to see the fabulous fountains, and how great the buildings look in the sunshine.

Though I have to admit to being a bit creeped out by some of the sculptures! Brr.

I had lunch in the cafe, visited Pinky Plum on the terrace overlooking the Thames...

... then crossed Waterloo Bridge to the Southbank.

I met Frida Baa-hlo at the BFI...

... browsed the second hand books for sale under the bridge (I bought so many books at this market in my teens!)...

... enjoyed the river views...

... and arrived at the London Eye to see Ewe-nion Jack.

Then I headed back over the river (via the Golden Jubilee bridges), took a small detour round Whitehall Gardens (such pretty tulips!)...

... then walked down the road to Trafalgar Square. Here I found one of my favourite Shauns: Nelson, complete with a perching pigeon, just like the "real" statue on top of the column. So cute.

I popped round the corner to the Mall to tick Me Llamo Shaun off the list, then walked back to Trafalgar Square to see the current sculpture on the Fourth Plinth...

... and to Canada House to visit the current exhibition in their gallery. This small exhibition space is free to visit and so peaceful - a huge contrast to the hustle and bustle of the crowds out in the Square!

Next up: Leicester Square Gardens, where Woolly Jumbo and Mossy Bottom can be found.

I especially loved Woolly Jumbo - such fun details!

Since it was a gorgeous sunny day, I bought an icecream (Häagen-Daz... yum!) to eat as I walked to the next location: Chinatown. Can you believe that I'd never actually been here before? That's one of the great things about following a trail like this: the chance to visit a bunch of new-to-you places. I managed to walk straight past Jingtai the first time I passed it (oops), but found it eventually.

The next stop? Piccadilly Circus, to visit Monsters! and The Gruffalo Shaun.

Then it was time to head up Regent Street, admiring lots of smart shop windows and saying hi to Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom in Hamleys and Ram of the Match.

Just off the top of Regent Street, Rule Brittania and Baa-bushka were hanging out near Carnaby Street and Liberty.

It is, of course, impossible for me to pass Liberty without going inside for a browse and to ooh over all the lovely things. So, no prizes for guessing what I did next :)

Aren't these flowers gorgeous? And that drain pipe! So fabulous.

After soaking up the loveliness at Liberty, I hopped on the Tube to St Pauls - where there's a whole cluster of Shauns dotted around the Cathedral. If you've not got much time but want to see a bunch of the sculptures, this is the place to visit.

There's Chelsea Pen-Shaun-er (delightful!) and A Capital View...

... Woolly Wiggle, Out of this World, Fine & Gandy, Sheep Shape & Bristol Fashion...

... Baa-roque (love those column legs!)...

... Literary Lamb...

... and (my final Shaun of the day) Hamish.

I'd totally planned on just finding a few of the Shaun in the City sculptures as a fun way to have a nice walk in London on a sunny day... but it turns out this sheep-spotting lark is kinda addictive!

I'm now planning more Nice Days Out based on where the other Shauns are located, wondering if I'll be able to track down all 50 before the London trail finishes and thinking that the Bristol trail would be a great excuse to visit one of my favourite cities. Hmm...

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