Big Dog Art Trail raises £165,800 for Julia’s House

By Ben Carey on 22 September, 2023

The Big Dog Art Trail Grand Auction has raised £165,800 for the Wiltshire and Dorset children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House.

The auction took place at Swindon’s STEAM Museum on Tuesday 19th September, where attendees and online bidders had their chance to take home their very own Swindog or Swinpup – the balloon dog sculptures which formed the popular art trail around Swindon this year.

Each balloon dog sculpture was sponsored by a business or individual, and artists from across the country were invited to create eye-catching, hand-painted designs on them.

Mike Bartlett, Deputy CEO of Julia’s House, said, “It’s a remarkable total for Julia’s House children’s hospice. The people bidding have been so brilliant and generous, and we can’t thank Swindon enough for their support.”

Designs were wildly different, with some depicting iconic people and places in Swindon, and others celebrating the great work done by Julia’s House with joyful symbols, positive affirmations and beautiful illustrations.

The auction was hosted by TV auctioneer Charles Hanson, best known for his appearances as an antiques expert on Bargain Hunt, Flog It! and Antiques Road Trip.

Charlie Langhorne from event organiser Wild in Art said, “It’s great to see that the Swindogs will now go to their forever homes while leaving a lasting legacy through the funds raised for Julia’s House. A lot of hard work has gone into the trail and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved, from the bidders to everyone who has supported The Big Dog Art Trail over the summer.”

Two sculptures, one by David King Reuben and another by Jane Morgan, reached the highest price with both fetching £15,000 on the night.

Pictured above: Penny for your Thoughts by Jane Morgan.

A sculpture created by Julia’s House children and local artist Hannah Dosanjh, called Patches – Julia’s Hound, made a total of £10,000. The design features handprints, messages and drawings by the children cared for by Julia’s House.

Sponsors of The Big Dog Art Trail continued their support for Julia’s House children’s hospice, with Imagine Cruising, Beard, National Self Build Renovation Centre, Arval, Telenco and Nationwide all buying back the sculpture they had sponsored.

The Julia’s House team started working on The Big Dog Art Trail more than 18 months ago and the fundraising project has been a huge undertaking for the charity, involving around 30 professional artists, 30 sponsors and 40 local schools and community groups. The trail took place in Swindon between July and September with 72 Swindogs and Swinpups positioned in the town’s parks, landmarks and streets.

Mike Bartlett, Deputy Chief Executive of Julia’s House said, “Our Julia’s House nurses and carers are out there every day providing vital specialist and compassionate care to the most seriously ill children in Swindon and Wiltshire. As a charity we rely almost entirely on donations, so the only way we can keep giving families the compassionate care and respite they need is by people supporting us. Having an event like The Big Dog Art Trail means we can continue to reach and support more families in their homes and at our hospice, do more of our vital work and bring more smiles and love to the local community.”

Julia’s House currently supports around 200 families across Wiltshire and Dorset, and the number is rising as medical and scientific advances mean more children are being born and living longer with life-limiting conditions.

The charity’s mission is to reach more children with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions and to set the gold standard in flexible, bespoke care that supports the whole family.

The Business Exchange is proud to have got behind this initiative, sponsoring the Viva La Frida Swindog.