Children Lead The Way As Swinpups Get Ready To Be Unleashed

Children lead the way as the Swinpups get ready to be unleashed

Date published: 11 June 2023

The Swinpups are ready to be unleashed on Swindon next month after getting their glossy coats courtesy of children across the town.

As part of the Learning Programme, designed to engage young people in art and the trail, around 40 miniature balloon dog sculptures have been adopted by schools and community groups.

They have all undergone a paw-some transformation as the children have been in charge of designing and naming their sculptures.

As well as painting their Swinpup, every school has been raising £500 for Julia’s House children’s hospice with a range of activities from non-school uniform days, cake sales and crazy hair styles.

One school taking part in the programme is St Francis Church of England School in Taw Hill.

Alison Tremlett, class teacher and curriculum lead for art at St Francis School, said: “We had a competition where everyone did a design, and the designs were fantastic.

“We chose one design from each class and to see the children painting and drawing their designs onto the Swinpup is really exciting and we are loving it.

“As a church school, part of our spirituality is courageous advocacy, which is putting yourself out to do something for something else. So getting involved with Julia’s House and designing a Swinpup, it has been really useful to speak to the school about the lives of others who may be less fortunate than they are.

“All the different things that the children love about coming to St Francis are in the design,” said Alison. She added, “Make sure you get out there and see our Swinpup and all of the others.”

St Francis School pupils and teacher with one of 42 Swinpups

Running from 15 July to 3 September 2023, The Big Dog Art Trail is expected to attract thousands of visitors, with 42 Swinpups on display alongside 30 giant Swindog sculptures on the free trail.

The St Francis Swinpup has been named Fantastic Mr Frank and we caught up with some of the talented artists responsible for its design.

Year five pupil Rafael said: “It feels good painting a Swinpup and I am really liking it.

“My favourite part is probably painting the football because it is my favourite sport and the rainbow because it is so many colours.

“It makes me happy that my artwork is going to be seen by many people on the trail.”

Year three pupil Isabelle said: “It feels really good to be painting something that everything will see.

“I have painted an art area with paint brushes, pencils and a few paint splodges with lots of bright colours.”

Katherine, of year five, said: “It has been fun and nerve-wracking at the same time.

“The Swinpup is based on what we like about St Francis and my favourite part is the stained glassed window because we are a Christian school.

“I’ve never really done something like this before. I will definitely be going out on the trail and looking for all the Swinpups.”

The Big Dog Art Trail, which will be raising funds for Julia’s House children’s hospice, wouldn’t be possible without our amazing volunteers.

We are looking for Big Dog helpers to support the trail by being on hand to speak to members of the public about the trail, give advice on the map and the app and report damages to the Big Dog maintenance team.

Can you help us get tails wagging? Find out more at or call the volunteer team on 01202 644220.

Sculptures Artists App Charity