This week I have found myself searching for sheep in the cosmopolitan city of Bristol. This sounds a bit like an oxymoron – sheep in a city – but when you know that our hunt wasn’t for the fluffy baaing variety but for huge sheep sculptures instead, then it becomes a whole lot more understandable. We were off to find Shaun in The City.
Shaun the Sheep originates from the brilliant Aardman studios (also responsible for Wallace & Gromit) based in Bristol where they support the fundraising effort of the Bristol Children’s Hospital by allowing giant versions of their most loved (and most commercial) characters to be reproduced, decorated by contemporary artists and celebrities and then sold at auction. The animation of Shaun the Sheep, like its predecessor, has a wonderful sense of humour accessible to all ages and so, after the success of the Gromit Unleashed fundraiser in 2013 which raised over £2.3 million, it was only a matter of time before Shaun took centre stage. This is why on a muggy, fairly nondescript day in August a group of 7 adults and 15 children met at Brislington Park and Ride for a day of sheep spotting.
Feeling a lot like a sheepdog already (15 wandering children is definitely comparable to a flock of sheep) we waited the thirty minutes(!) for the bus to arrive before climbing on board and taking over the entire back end. Whilst the children got up to speed on the days current affairs, we adults consulted the Shaun in The City map (or app for the more technologically advanced of us) and decided on our route. Starting at Temple Meads train station and finishing outside the Hippodrome we spent the next four hours herding our little flock around parts of Bristol we knew existed but had never frequented.
The Temple Quay area has been hugely developed since my youth when the Bristol Science Museum (as At Bristol was then known) was the only thing you’d visit in the area, unless you were an insurance clerk. It is now not just a commercial centre but has a creative collective to rival the most bohemian of cities with fortnightly Markets and Street Food Markets. Until the 31st August it is also home to three of the Shaun’s .
Temple Church Gardens was next on our hit list and what a tiny gem of a park this is, with remains of a bombed out medieval church, a scentsational rose garden and an ice cream van ready and willing to dish out 99’s to our throng (and give a cheeky wink to one of the lovely mummies among us – who? no, that would be telling, I’ll spare their blushes!). This is all the more delightful considering that it is found no more than 200 yards from one of the busiest roads in Bristol (the A4044) and yet it allows you to experience a soupçon of paradise in one of the UK’s busiest cities. On this visit it was also home to a pink sheep (‘Sheepish’ decorated by Wayne Hemingway) and one of T’s favourite sheep of the day.
From Temple Church Gardens we headed to the gothic St Mary Redcliffe Church to find a delightful sheep called ‘Willow’ (my favourite).
To complete the Temple Trail we wandered over to Queen Square and admired the majestic ‘Justice Lamb’ (some of the children did think this was a granny sheep, the jud
ge’s wig looking remarkably similar to a ‘granny do’, yes, that is a technical term for this type of hairstyle).
Queen Square is in bounding distance from the Bristol Hippodrome and Harbourside so we decided to head over to find a few more sheep not on the Temple Trail (yes, we were still going strong, although the children were a little more reluctant to pose for a photo with the final statues). It was along the waterfront where we found J’s favourite sheep ‘Beach Boy’ with a ‘Kiss me Quick’ hat perfectly representing the archetypal Great British holiday destination (although perhaps he should have been given an umbrella to match).
By the time we reached ‘Green Poems for a Blue Planet’ we were all exhausted and decided to catch the bus back to Brislington. Unlike Little Bo Peep, we had found all of our sheep ( although only 12 of the 70 distributed around Bristol) and left tired but incredibly satisfied with our adventure.
Shaun in the City was a wonderful (and cheap) day out and with a week left of the flocks presence in Bristol, it will be something that we repeat! Share your photos if you do the same as I’d love to see them. The entire flock are due to be auctioned on the 8th October with all proceeds going to The Grand Appeal but before then, the entire flock can be viewed at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol between 12th-20th September. If you don’t have a trip to Bristol planned in this time you can still catch them as they will be rounded up and moved en mass to Covent Garden, London between 24th-27th September. For full details about Shaun in the City log on to the website and see how you can support a wonderful cause and appreciating some great modern art.