What’s all this duck?

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck
A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck
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SOME might say it’s a quackers idea but that’s just water off John Dowswell’s back.

He’s the man behind a series of painted ducks which you may have noticed appearing across Sheffield of late.

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

There are 25 of them – each sporting a typically South Yorkshire phrase – and they’ve all been daubed at some of the city’s best loved pubs. The idea, it seems, is you clock a mallard while enjoying a drink, become curious, go in search of the others, and discover new watering holes and new parts of Sheffield along the way.

It’s part bar crawl, part open air exhibition, part celebration of the region’s unique vernacular.

“Why have I done it?” ponders John, a professional artist who works under the monicker coLor. “I had a few days free, I guess.”

He’s being modest.

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

This is one incomer’s celebration of the city he loves. And it’s an attempt to promote what he sees as four of the its best assets - real ale pubs, good walking (between said pubs), street art, and those phrases which make the South Yorkshire dialect unique.

“It’s also about encouraging people to get off the beaten track,” says the 28-year-old, who originally comes from Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire but moved to Sheffield aged 19.

“I like the idea of putting flashes of humour and brightness around the city.

“It’s a way of trying to get people to try new places, to perhaps not just stick to the same old pubs and routines.

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

“If you like this pub where there’s a duck, you might also like this one where there’s another – whether that’s for the beer, the architecture, the garden, or just because you’ll bump into some lovely folk.

“I haven’t advertised it or anything – I just wanted it to be a thing that people discovered for themselves organically.”

Each painting has been done with the permission of the landlord. And while coLor, who lives in Sharrow, asks The Diary not to give the game away by revealing the pubs, he’s happy for you to know they’re everywhere from Kelham Island to Crookes, Fulwood to Broomhill, with more than a couple in the city centre itself.

The phrases range from South Yorkshire greetings (‘nah then’ says one duck) to typically Sheffield instructions (‘sup up,’ commands another).

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

And, apart from the treasures you might find en route, he’s also offering a prize to the 10 duck-hunters who spot the most. Entrants must email pictures of themselves with as many ducks as possible, or send each pub name and the phrase being said by the painted duck there. Each duck comes with a point score. The 10 entrants with the most cumulative points will win a hand-painted duck complete with a phrase of their choice.

He’s hoping you take to the idea like a you-know-what to water.

For more details visit www.facebook.com/ayupducks or email ayupducks@live.co.uk

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

A painted duck from the Ay Up Duck

Artist John Dowswell

Artist John Dowswell