From now until 27th November a pack of over 40 Snowdogs are in residence in Brighton & Hove. Presented by Martlets Hospice, Wild in Art and Penguin, this “pawsome” extraordinary public art trail is a visual feat and an engaging public art event to delight local communities and tourists alike. The magical Snowdog sculptures are inspired by the much loved animated short film, The Snowman (TM) and The Snowdog.
Individually decorated by an artist, each Snowdog has it’s own identity. They are joined by a pack of 20 mini Snowdog puppies designed by local school children. At the end of the trail the Snowdogs will be auctioned off to raise funds for Martlets.
You can visit him on Montpelier Crescent, Brighton. Trail maps are available form Chalk Gallery, and the Martlets shops in Brighton, and you can download a special Snowdogs app.
Chalk Gallery and Clifton the Snowdog – the story
Gallery artists have fallen a little bit in love with Clifton the Snowdog, who was designed by one of our artists, Lyndsey Smith, and painted by all of us in a mammoth team effort.
Lyndsey first heard about the project and went to meet the Snowdog team and the “Disco Dog” and friends at Brighton Ice rink back in January. The Snowdog idea is deliciously appealing, and the dogs themselves captured the imagination of the Chalk Gallery artists. We decided we wanted to paint a dog, and put forward some designs for Sponsors to peruse and hopefully choose. The strongest of the designs was Lyndsey’s “Wish you were here” postcards, against a background of Brighton beach pebbles. From the very beginning she was totally captivated by the whole concept and has been amazing in making this project a success. It would have been unthinkable to miss out.
We were thrilled when Streamline Taxis chose the design and wanted to adapt it to reflect the history of their business which is 80 years old this year. A meeting with 3 of the lovely chaps from Streamline, Sarah and Emma from Martletts and Lyndsey, Veronica & Leila from Chalk Gallery concluded that we wanted our dog to celebrate Brighton and Hove, an area which is close to the hearts of Streamline whose taxis have served the area for 80 years. We wanted the postcards to tell stories, and invite questions too. Who is that little boy by the 1936 Taxi?
Lyndsey has cleverly incorporated personal touches in the messages on the backs of postcards, exquisitely painted. They all have a relevance, but to explain them all would be to spoil the intrigue.
Streamline came up with a list of subjects for the postcards, and each Chalk Gallery artist volunteered to design and paint one. Veronica offered her Longleys Studio Barn as a temporary home for our beautiful dog. Streamline involved all their cabbies in choosing the name Clifton (their offices are at 5 Clifton Hill, Brighton), and we involved all our artists in the project. Both companies are run as co-operatives, so we feel we are two co-operatives co-operating.
Timescales were tight, so a timeline was drawn up. Lyndsey confidently took the helm and gathered in designs from all the artists for their postcard so she could place them in a pleasing composition.
James from Streamline delivered Clifton in a Martlets van, his naked white face was photographed looking out of the barn with a blank innocence. (Clifton, not James).
Veronica sanded and looked after Clifton. A small group helped Lyndsey to paint the background of pebbles, masking out where the 21 postcards would be painted. Simone made a rota of when we would all arrive to paint so we wouldn’t be painting on top of each other, a pile of acrylic paints and materials appeared, and we each arrived, wide eyed and terrified of letting the other artists down. Some had practiced the design several times, some were confident and just “went for it”. Veronica photographed the artists as they came and went, and Facebook and Twitter were aflutter with glimpses of activity in our “secret location”. Clifton set up his own social media accounts. (Smart dog). Veronica’s hens, dogs and guinea fowl were the audience, with the cows looking on from the neighbouring farm.
Each day Veronica sent photos to the rest of the “Chalkies”, showing progress, and marked “Top Secret”. We watched him develop with frog tape masking out the pebbles so we had a clear white rectangle for our postcards. Artists arrived with tables, rucksacks, or just a brush or two, each contributing their own style and adding a touch of their own personal magic to each original painting. Gradually the postcards were bursting into life, each with their own story.
Lyndsey had sleepless nights, but always appeared calm and smiling. The feverish creativity was carried out in harmony with no spats between the artists. We have all loved the first opportunity we have had to paint collaboratively on a single project. Chatting over Clifton with other artists working on him gave us the opportunity to find out a little bit more about each other too.
Finally he was done, and had the approval of Martlets. A few last minutes tweeks, and his coat was finished with a confident gloss. Lyndsey could relax.
The new, shiny Clifton poked his head out of the barn. What a difference a month had made. He blinked in the sunlight and stepped out into the garden for his first photoshoot. James from Streamline returned in the Martlets van, and we watched him fall a little bit in love with Clifton too. Bubble wrapped he left us, (Clifton, not James), with a glimpse of his head and that distinctive cocked ear showing above the tailgate. Off to join the pack.