Sheffield artists and school pupils design over 160 charity bear sculptures
Artists, designers and illustrators from across the city will soon find out if the bear sculptures they have designed for charity will soon make Sheffield their home.
The Children’s Hospital Charity are bringing another mass participation art exhibition to Sheffield this year, following on from the success of the Herd of Sheffield in 2016 which saw a stampede of elephants displayed across the city.
The sculptures on display this time will be around 60 life-sized bears, each of which will be uniquely designed and painted by creative people from Sheffield and across the country.
The big bears will also be joined by some Little Bears, which have been painted by local school children and sponsored by educational establishments.
Cheryl Davidson, Project Manager of the Bears of Sheffield at the charity said: “It’s fantastic to be able to say that some of the bears will be designed and painted by local as well as national artists, a big aim of this project is to showcase what a wonderful city Sheffield really is.
“The bears are made by Simpsons Ltd in Darnall and having some local artists design and paint the bears really centres the project to Sheffield. We’ve done this to encourage economic growth and increase the sense of community within the city.”
Sheffield BID has also officially been announced as the Bears of Sheffield headline sponsor.
Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID Manager, said: “The BID has always, and will continue, to support great events that can help deliver economic growth in Sheffield city centre.
“The Children’s Hospital is a wonderful cause and something many of us in the city have benefited from. In addition to raising much-needed funds for the charity, the trail also benefits the city centre’s traders – driving football, supporting the local economy and contributing to the vibrancy of the city centre.”
Artists and illustrators from across the city and beyond were asked to submit their designs for the bears at the end of last year – and in April they will find out if their creation has made it on to the shortlist and is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Shortlisted artists will receive a fee of £850 towards their time and materials. Painting is scheduled to take place in May with the trail going live in July – just in time for a summer time teddy bear picnic.
The first to decorate a bear will be local artist Jo Peel, whose work documents everyday scenes, telling stories over the world around her as she explores its changing face.
Her work can be seen around Sheffield in the form of huge public murals.
All funds raised through the Bears of Sheffield will help transform the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
The ward treats children from babies through to 19-year-olds from South Yorkshire and beyond, The transformed ward would create a new home from home for families with space, privacy and natural light to make hospital stays and isolation a place of sanctuary and calm.
The hope is that the event will raise upwards of £650,000 for the hospital, beating funds raised from the 2016 Herd of Sheffield trail.
The Little Bears on this year’s trail will be sponsored by schools.
Each participating establishment will be provided with their own little bear to paint and decorate however they wish, their bear will then join the trail in the summer holidays throughout July to September.
Since the announcement of the trail at the end of last year, over 130 schools and community groups from across South Yorkshire have said they would be interested in sponsoring a Little Bear to help raise funds to help raise funds.
There are already 100 schools confirmed to receive a bear and this is already more than the 62 little elephants which made up the Little Herd four years ago.
After the trail, each Little Bear will be returned to the school, nursery or college as a permanent memento of the project.
The schools confirmed have committed to raising a minimum of £750 for their bear by May 25 and some schools have already achieved this target. Fundraising can be done however they wish, for example through bake sales, dress down days, sponsorships or even hosting a quiz.
Education partner Twinkle are providing the schools with education packs and fundraising ideas to help guide them through the process, so the children learn, raise vital funds and have fun all at the same time.
Heritage High School, a secondary school in Chesterfield, is one of the school’s which has signed up.
Angela Lindley, Business Manager at the school, explained their reasons for taking part.
She said: “Within our school community we have a number of families that the Children’s Hospital has supported through illness of either themselves or family members.
“We are grateful that this level of support is able to continue for the benefit of children and young people, not only in our community but for all who need this support.
“We’re so lucky to have an amazing staff member, Mrs Frances Newton, who, amongst other jobs, coordinates our student voice group and works with the students regarding the charities.”
Frances Newton said: “All of our students have been involved in the fundraising in some way or another.
“We have a brilliant team selling raffle tickets, taking the change buckets around and many more have signed up to join the fundraising team this week.
“We now have so many students wanting to help that we have had to draw up a rota, which is brilliant news. We have already raised £850 since September which really showcases how supportive the pupils are and how much they want to do their bit to try and make a difference.
“We will soon be running a competition to choose the theme of our bear and then a second competition to design the bear which will be based around our chosen theme.
“The winner will then be chosen by our students in a vote as we want them all to feel represented as they have all helped to raised funds for the charity.”
The theme for the bear trail comes from the charity mascot Theo, and also the well-known Sheffield bear sculpture located in the Botanical Garden’s bear pit.
David Mayne, the designer of the bear in the Botanical Garden’s, said: “It was a real surprise when David from the charity asked if the original design could be used and whether I would be happy to be involved in the project to create pieces that could become part of a new bear hunt.
“I never realised just how iconic and how well loved this sculpture would become. I have worked on numerous public art commissions throughout the country but this piece has always been my personal favourite and probably will be for the rest of my career.
“I found it fascinating visiting the company who have created the Bears for the sculpture trail, recreating a smoother bear that can be painted whilst most importantly retaining an essence of the original, and I’m absolutely thrilled that my sculpture could be the reason that thousands of pounds are raised for the children’s hospital.”