It’s not too late to join the pack

By Nick Batten on 28 March, 2023

More than 30 larger than life balloon dog sculptures – the Swindogs – are set to be unleashed across Swindon this summer in the biggest and most colourful local event of 2023.

The Business Exchange has proved it’s not too late to join the pack and is proud to be part of this exciting, first-time-ever event for the town as Swindon goes walkies!

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

The super-sized sculptures have been sponsored by local companies and organisations including Imagine Cruising UK, Swindon Borough Council, Beard, Intel, Nationwide Building Society, Bespoke Guardians Swindon Wildcats, Jazzbones Creative, Arval UK, Better Link Centre, Telenco , Swindon Advertiser, Persimmon Homes, Wyvern Theatre, National Self Build and Renovation Centre (NSBRC), Annabel Karmel, Swindon’s Bus Company and now The Business Exchange.

Anita Jaynes, Founder of The Business Exchange, said, “The Business Exchange is thrilled to be supporting Julia’s House with this fantastic initiative which celebrates art, champions our area, and brings businesses together for good. 

“It’s a great opportunity for us to be part of a big community event in a special year for The Business Exchange as we get set to celebrate our tenth anniversary later this year. 

“I’ve personally seen the difference hospice care makes to children and families living with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions and wanted to help Julia’s House with its mission. 

“I’m looking forward to sharing all the latest Big Dog Art Trail news via The Business Exchange Swindon and Wiltshire in the coming months.”

There are just a handful of Swindogs left to sponsor. From those remaining, sponsors can choose which location on the trail or Swindog design aligns best with their brand. However, the designs are being kept under wraps until they are unveiled in the summer. There were over 200 artist submissions to decorate the Swindogs which was narrowed down to a final 30.

Martin Edwards, CEO for Julia’s House, said, “Now we have our final 30 designs we can really envisage how amazing the Swindogs will look around Swindon. We’re so grateful for the support from our partners, sponsors, artists and everybody involved in bringing The Big Dog Art Trail to Swindon this summer – the event is going to make a life-changing difference to the local children and families we support.”

Schools, colleges and children’s nurseries are also encouraged to take part by designing their own 80cm high balloon dog sculpture as part of The Big Dog Art Trail’s learning programme. 

Once decorated, around 40 mini Swinpups will feature on the free art trail through some of Swindon’s best loved and historic places, alongside the 30 full-size Swindogs.

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. 

Swindon Borough Council, which recently allocated £80,000 from a special UK Government levelling-up grant to part-fund the event, is the Trail’s official Learning Programme Partner.

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

Julia’s House has partnered with Wild in Art, the leading producer of spectacular public art events that entertain, enrich, inform and leave a lasting legacy. To date, Wild in Art events have enabled over £23.6m to be raised for charitable causes, injected £3.8m into local creative communities, engaged over one million young people in learning programmes, and helped millions of people of all ages to experience art in non-traditional settings.

Julia’s House hopes to raise £150,000 to support the charity’s care from the event. The charity relies on external donations and fundraising activities to carry out its work which provides a lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families in Wiltshire both at home and in the Devizes-based hospice. Julia’s House only receives around 8 per cent of its funding from the Government, so community events such as this are its lifeblood. £1.5m is needed each year to support the charity’s care in Wiltshire and the need is rising. The number of babies, children and young people living with life-limiting conditions had trebled in England over the past two decades to around 87,000. This means there are more children in Wiltshire needing specialist care than ever before.

The Big Dog Art Trail will run from Saturday 15th July to Sunday 3rd September, ending with a grand farewell weekend where all of the sculptures will be brought together under one roof, before being sold off at a special auction event to raise money for the charity. The Swindogs will then be off to their furever homes.

To find out more about becoming a Swindog sponsor visit: www.bigdogarttrail.co.uk/sponsors/
or get in touch with the Julia’s House team by emailing: big.dog@juliashouse.org