The Big Dog Art Trail 'Swinpups' go walkies in Swindon classrooms

By Jessica Durston - 15 March 2023

Arts and CultureAttractionsEducation
  • Photo credit - Simon Ward

    Photo credit - Simon Ward

Around 40 schools and youth groups in Swindon have signed up for the Big Dog Art Trail - a balloon dog sculpture trail event coming to the town this summer.

Let's Create Art Club

A large pack of Swinpups are all set to go walkies in classrooms across Swindon later this month.

Around 40 schools and community groups across town have signed up to adopt a Swinpup and take part in the world’s first balloon dog art trail, which will be held in Swindon this summer.

The 80-centimetre high balloon dog sculptures will be uniquely designed by schools and community groups as part of The Big Dog Art Trail’s Learning Programme.

Once decorated, the mini Swinpups will feature on the free trail alongside 30 giant Swindog sculptures, which will be painted by professional and up-and-coming artists. The Swinpups will then return to their forever homes for schools and communities to enjoy for years to come.

Hosted by Wiltshire’s children’s hospice, Julia’s House, and global art producer, Wild in Art, the trail will feature some of Swindon’s most well-loved and historic places and will aim to shine a light on art and culture in the heart of the town.

Kerry Edney, Fundraiser for Julia’s House, said, “We’re so pleased at the response we’ve had to the trail’s Learning Programme – we actually had to increase our pack of Swinpups because so many schools were eager to take part. We’re looking forward to seeing all the different designs on the trail; it’s going to be a wonderful celebration of imagination and creativity!”

Schools and communities will have the chance to pick up their blank Swinpup sculpture at a special Big Dog Learning Programme event later this month.

The trail participants will be supported with guidance and resources to help design their sculpture and engage their young learners in the project. They will also receive top tips to help them fundraise a target amount of £500 for Julia’s House to help the charity continue its life-changing care in the local community.

Rachel Bray, Founder of Let’s Create Art Club in Swindon, said, "I couldn't wait to be involved when I saw The Big Dog Trail being advertised! It's a fantastic opportunity for the children who attend Let's Create Art Club to be part of an exciting, inspiring community project that is both artistic, as well as active – all the while raising money for such a worthy cause, Julia’s house.

“I can't wait to get started, and my aim now is to work out how I can involve as many of our little artists as possible on our Swinpup!"

The Wild in Art team say this unique, creative learning adventure for children and young people is being supported by Swindon Borough Council, the trail’s official Learning Programme Partner. The council recently announced its support for The Big Dog Art Trail, allocating £80,000 from a special UK Government levelling up grant to part-fund the event.

Cllr 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.”

Running from 15 July - 3 September 2023, The Big Dog Art Trail is expected to attract thousands of visitors from outside Swindon and encourage local residents to re-discover the town they love, providing a welcome boost for local businesses.

The major art trail will end with a grand farewell finale where all of the Swindog and Swinpup sculptures will be brought together under one roof.

Following this, all the Swinpups will return back to their schools and communities as a 'paw-fect' legacy to proudly display. The supersized Swindog sculptures will then be adopted at a special auction event to raise essential funds for Julia’s House children’s hospice.

Those interested can find out more about The Big Dog Art Trail and how to become a sponsor at



March 2023                                      - Learning Programme and Sponsor inspiration events

March to June 2023                       - Swindogs and Swinpups painted

15 July to 3 September 2023         - Big Dog Art Trail goes LIVE around Swindon

16 & 17 September 2023               - Farewell event with all the Swindogs and Swinpups in one place

19 September 2023                         - Swinpups return to their forever homes. Auction event for giant Swindogs

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