The Cotswold Hare Trial is a public art sculpture trail based around a trail of over 80 five foot hare sculptures which have been decorated by a mix of professional, amateur and community group artists, placed across 28 towns and villages throughout the Cotswolds. Its primary aim is to increase public awareness of creativity bringing the talents of diverse artistic styles into the realm of the everyday world. It is designed to run for a long period (six months) to maximise the time that the art is on show. By involving local businesses and community organisations it enables the trail to reach a huge audience and to create an accessible open air art gallery in the midst of the Cotswolds towns and villages.
Working closely with Visit Cotswolds Tourism enables us to bring in 10s of thousands of visitors to the Region to explore these art installations. We also work closely with galleries and art studios in the Region such as New Brewery Arts and the Paragon Gallery Cheltenham.
The trail makes every effort to ensure that art is accessible by placing the hares where they can not only be viewed closely but touched and people are encouraged to handle and engage with the art. In particular the hares are designed to promote an emotional response with people expressing a wide range of positive reactions. their engagement is often felt moving many to tears and enabling people to connect to the pieces through their feelings. The sculptures appeal to all ages, having a special appeal to children who will often respond to the sculptures as if they are alive.
We reinforce art education by promoting school art. Hares have been designed and decorated by school children from nursery age to the students at Higher Educational establishments. This includes the students with particular needs, such as Paternoster School and National Star College who do not always have such opportunities. Not only do the pupils develop their own creative skills, but they are able to present these to a wide public showcase. This is a strong thread of the Trail design.
We support professional artists, giving them a percentage of the auction profits. The trail provides work for over 100 artists decorating both small and large hares. Amateur artists are encouraged to gain wider skills and confidence at approaching a wider audience through participation in the project. This results quite often in individual commissions for artists following the Festival end.
Our highly effective PR ensures that the Trail is brought to the public’s attention with the artists, sponsors and community groups all promoting the designs through press and social media. This brings the work of each artist to a new audience. No other similar trail lasts for a 6 month period to sustain such interest in a creative endeavour. The auction of the sculptures at the end of the Trail widens the interest and participation further, with art auctions houses and art galleries across the UK and abroad following its progress. It enables us to put back money into the community which has supported us, with this year National Star and local museums being the beneficiaries of our net profits. The Festival retains its not-for-profit status returning any monies raised back into the project.
We have found that our success is based on our wide ranging aims, which also meet your criteria. Using the landscape and our historic buildings as sites for our hares we support a dynamic aesthetic promoting a deeper appreciation of the environment. We understand the importance of engaging local businesses in order to raise the profile of art. Through providing a benefit for them, for the tourist industry and for community projects we make whole sections of our towns engage in art in a very new way. Together we create a Trail which is truly “Art for everyone in ordinary spaces”.