Giant balloon dogs on their way to Swindon next summer

By Nick Batten on 4 July, 2022

More than 30 larger-than-life balloon dog sculptures – the Swindogs – are set to be unleashed across Swindon during the summer of 2023.

The uniquely decorated sculptures will create the UK’s first-ever balloon dog art trail and will raise essential funds for the local children’s hospice charity, Julia’s House.

The Big Dog Art Trail will create a free walking trail through some of Swindon’s most well-loved and historic parks, landmarks and streets and will shine a light on art and culture in the heart of the town. As well as encouraging local residents to re-discover the town they love, the public art spectacle is expected to attract thousands of visitors from outside the town, providing a welcome boost for local businesses.

Schools, nurseries and community groups will also be invited to get involved in the project in autumn this year and create designs for their own mini Swindog puppy sculptures, which will form part of the main family-friendly art trail. 

Each of the two-metre-high balloon dogs will be adopted by different well-known and undiscovered artists, who will hand paint their own eye-catching and innovative designs on the sculpture. The very first painted Swindog, decorated by local artist Hannah Dosanjh, was recently unveiled at a special launch event at STEAM museum for businesses interested in sponsoring their own balloon dog sculpture.  

Running from 15th July to 3rd September 2023, the art trail will end with a grand farewell finale where all of the Swindog sculptures will be brought together under one roof. The giant one-of-a-kind sculptures will then head off to their forever homes after being adopted at a special auction event to raise money for Julia’s House children’s hospice. 

The Big Dog Art Trail is being brought to Swindon by Julia’s House and global public art producer, Wild in Art, who has previously hosted trails in cities across the UK and worldwide, including the recent elephant parade in Worcester and cows in Cambridge.

Martin Edwards, CEO for Julia’s House, said, “We’re so excited to bring this bold and unique event to Swindon in 2023. It will give the local business community a huge boost and will attract a throng of visitors to see the super-sized Swindogs. We’re delighted to be supporting the thriving art scene in the town and encouraging families to explore their local area.” 

He continued, “The balloon dog sculpture was the perfect match for Julia’s House, as art and play enable us to make fun and special memories for families, which is an important aspect of our care for the most seriously ill children in Swindon and throughout Wiltshire. Crucially for Julia’s House, The Big Dog Art Trail will also help us to raise awareness and vital funds so we can continue to be a lifeline for the growing number of local families who depend on our care.”

Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder Wild in Art, added, “I have no doubt that the balloon dog will capture the imaginations of residents and visitors alike, while helping to raise vital funds for Julia’s House. With your support we can create an event that will have significant impact during the summer of 2023.”

KEY BIG DOG ART TRAIL DATES:

  • 28th June 2022 – Official launch of The Big Dog Art Trail @Steam
  • November 2022 – Open call to artists to submit designs
  • Until December 2022 – Local schools and youth groups invited to join the programme
  • January 2023 – Art selection event where sponsors choose their artist’s design
  • March to April 2023 – Decoration of sculptures
  • March 2023 – Sponsors’ activation workshop
  • 15th July to 3 September 2023 – The Big Dog Art Trail is LIVE around Swindon
  • 16th & 17th September 2023 – Farewell event with all the dogs in one place. 
  • 18th September 2023 – Auction event. Swindogs auctioned to raise vital funds for Julia’s House

To find out how to become a sponsor or to get the latest Big Dog Art Trail updates, visit www.bigdogarttrail.co.uk

Pictured above: The two-metre high dogs will be appearing across Swindon next year