Swinpups Go Walkies! - The Big Dog Art Trail

Swinpups go walkies!

Date published: 12 January 2023


A parade of Swinpups are getting ready to go walkies in classrooms across Swindon in anticipation of the UK’s first balloon dog art trail, coming to town this summer.

The Big Dog Art Trail Learning Programme

Schools, colleges and children’s nurseries are being invited to adopt and design their very own 80 centimetre-high balloon dog sculpture, as part of The Big Dog Art Trail’s learning programme. Once decorated, the mini Swinpups will feature on the free art trail through some of Swindon’s best loved and historic places, alongside around 30 giant Swindog sculptures, which will be painted by professional and up-and-coming artists. The Swinpups will then return to their forever homes for schools and communities to enjoy for years to come.

The Big Dog Art Trail is being brought to town by global art trail producer Wild in Art and the Wiltshire children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House.

As well as receiving a blank Swinpup sculpture to decorate and keep forever, participating schools and communities will be supported with guidance and resources to help design their sculpture and engage their young learners in the project. They will also receive top tips to help them fundraise a target amount of £500 for Julia’s House to help the charity continue its life-changing care in the local community.

Learning Programme Partner

This unique, creative learning adventure for children and young people is being supported by Swindon Borough Council, the trail’s official Learning Programme Partner. The council recently announced its enthusiastic support for The Big Dog Art Trail, allocating £80,000 from a special UK Government levelling up grant to part-fund the event.

“All children should have the opportunity to explore the arts and develop their creative skills with hands-on, real world experiences. Thanks to funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, we’re delighted to be supporting The Big Dog Art Trail and Julia’s House as the trail’s Learning Programme Partner. I’m very excited to see what our town’s budding young artists will create with their own Swinpups.”

Councillor Matty Courtliff, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure and Town Centre Experience

Running from 15 July to 3 September 2023, The Big Dog Art Trail is expected to attract thousands of visitors from outside Swindon and encourage local residents to re-discover the town they love, providing a welcome boost for local businesses.

The major art trail will end with a grand farewell finale where all of the Swindog and Swinpup sculptures will be brought together under one roof. After that, all the Swinpups will return back to their schools and communities as a paw-fect legacy to proudly display. And the supersized Swindog sculptures will be adopted at a special auction event to raise essential funds for Julia’s House children’s hospice.

“We’re delighted that young people can take part in the Big Dog Art Trail adventure and get their paws messy while they create their very own Swinpups. Play and creativity is at the heart of our care for seriously ill children across Wiltshire; it’s a powerful way for the children to discover the world around them, communicate and develop skills and understanding.

“We hope schools and young people across Swindon have a lot of fun designing their own Swinpups and learning more about their local community and environment – we can’t wait to see where their wild imagination takes them! And they’ll be joined by the children at the Julia’s House Wiltshire hospice who will be designing their very own Swinpup too. They’re all going to be an exciting addition to the art trail.”

Martin Edwards, Chief Executive of Julia’s House

To apply for a Swinpup, please complete an application form by Friday 10 February.

Click here for more information about the Learning Programme and how to apply

Learning Programme

Your donations make a life-changing difference

Julia’s House is your local children’s hospice charity, providing a lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families across Wiltshire and Dorset.

Each family we support is unique and so is the care we provide. When a family finds out that their child has a very serious medical condition their world falls apart. Julia’s House exists to help these children and their families.

Find out more about Julia’s House
Isabella with Julia's House Team Nurse Molly

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