Big Dog Art Trail’s Grand Auction raises £165,800 for Julia’s House

By Barrie Hudson - 21 September 2023

CharityArts and CultureAttractions

Children's hospice charity Julia's House is £165,800 better off following the auction of Swindogs and Swinpups from the Big Dog Art Trail.

Organisers of the Grand Auction at Steam described it as a triumph, with 34 Swindogs and Swinpups sold.
The auction was run in partnership with Wild in Art, an arts organisation well known for producing spectacular public events in the UK and Europe.
Each balloon dog sculpture was sponsored by a business or individual, and artists from across the country were invited to create hand-painted designs.  
Mike Bartlett, Deputy CEO of Julia’s House, said, “It’s a remarkable total for Julia’s House children’s hospice. The people who have been bidding in the room and online tonight have been so brilliant and generous, and we can’t thank Swindon enough for their support.” 
Designs were wildly different, with some depicting iconic people and places in Swindon, and others celebrating the great work done by Julia’s House with joyful symbols, positive affirmations and beautiful illustrations. 
The auction was hosted by Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder of Wild In Art, and TV auctioneer Charles Hanson, who is best known for his appearances as an antiques expert on Bargain Hunt, Flog It! and Antiques Road Trip.
The atmosphere was electric as bidders battled it out online and in person. 
Charlie Langhorne said: “It’s great to see that the Swindogs will now go to their forever homes while leaving a lasting legacy through the funds raised for Julia’s House.
"A lot of hard work has gone into the trail and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved, from the bidders to everyone who has supported The Big Dog Art Trail over the summer.” 
The best-in-show prize went to Writing on the Wall, 2023 by David King Reuben and Penny For Your Thoughts by Jane Morgan, which each fetched an impressive £15,000 from online bidders. 
Also popular on the night was a sculpture created by Julia’s House children and local artist Hannah Dosanjh, called Patches – Julia’s Hound.
This brightly coloured sculpture was decorated with handprints, messages and drawings by the children cared for by the children’s hospice charity.
An anonymous online bidder secured the sculpture for £8,000, with a generous supporter in the room donating a further £2,000 towards the sculpture for the charity. 
Artist MrASingh, who collectively raised £5,200 with his Swindog ‘Creative Twist’ and miniature Swindog ‘Mini Creative Twist’, said: “I think Swindon has really adopted the artwork – it's now part of Swindon’s DNA.
"So, what’s really nice is that a lot of people who have bought the sculptures are making sure they’re staying in Swindon, which is brilliant.” 
Sponsors of The Big Dog Art Trail continued to be passionate in their support for Julia’s House children’s hospice, with Imagine Cruising, Beard, National Self Build Renovation Centre, Arval, Telenco and Nationwide all buying back the sculpture they had sponsored. 
The Julia’s House team started working on The Big Dog Art Trail more than 18 months ago and the fundraising project has been a huge undertaking for the charity, involving around 30 professional artists, 30 sponsors and 40 local schools and community groups.
The trail took place in Swindon from 15 July to 3 September, with 72 Swindogs and Swinpups positioned in the town’s most well-loved and historic parks, landmarks and streets.
More than 23,000 people took part in the trail, with sightings of almost 210,000 Swindogs and Swinpups collected via the app. Visitors walked 30m steps, covering more than 13,500 miles steps in total.
The Farewell Weekend alone saw over 3,500 visitors come through the doors of Swindon’s STEAM Museum ahead of the auction, raising an estimated £10,000 to add to the charity’s fundraising total. 
Mike Bartlett, Deputy Chief Executive of Julia’s House, said: “Our Julia’s House nurses and carers are out there every day providing vital specialist and compassionate care to the most seriously ill children in Swindon and Wiltshire.
"As a charity we rely almost entirely on donations, so the only way we can keep giving families the compassionate care and respite they need is by people supporting us.
"Having an event like The Big Dog Art Trail means we can continue to reach and support more families in their homes and at our hospice, do more of our vital work and bring more smiles and love to the local community.” 
Julia’s House currently supports around 200 families across Wiltshire and Dorset, and the number is rising as medical and scientific advances mean more children are being born and living longer with life-limiting conditions.
The charity’s mission is to reach more children with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions and to set the gold standard in flexible, bespoke care that supports the whole family. 
More information about the charity can be found at  

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