The Buckingham Otter Trail 2021 was a temporary feel good public art event featuring ten individually decorated, 3ft sized otter sculptures displayed across town and surrounding green spaces from July 23rd - August 31st.
The trail was a fantastic way for residents and visitors to explore Buckingham and find out more about its businesses, artists and local attractions. Sponsored by local businesses and organisations, the otters were beautifully decorated by professional artists, school children and community groups in all sorts of colours and mediums which brought much excitement to the town over summer.
The free, inclusive public art sculpture trail was the perfect family friendly day out and made many happy memories. All ten otters were together one final time which gave people a chance to say their final farewells at the first ever Celebrate Buckingham Event. If you didn't get a chance to do the the trail you can read all about it below.
The sculptures will now be auctioned off to raise funds for the Mayor's charities and to support a future similar event in 2022.
Our design was inspired by the natural world around Buckingham and wanted to reflect the animals, birds and insects we have seen on our many walks during lockdown. The design incorporates lots of ideas taken from the year 6 children and discussions we had around the theme. We liked the idea that you could find lots of different creatures hidden around the sculpture and hoped that it would appeal to both young and old, counting the insects, finding the toad or even the hedgehog! We named him Jeff - not entirely sure how that happened - he's enjoying being in our school reception at the moment welcoming visitors!
I'm a primary school teacher at Buckingham Primary school specialising in art. When not at school I am also an artist exhibiting my work in galleries working in predominantly oils and watercolours. I also teach adults art at Vitreus Art Gallery, Towcester. I have been chair for many years of Buckingham Art for All - a popular local community art group
Heritage & Sons are proud to serve the wider community in Buckinghamshire and to support the fantastic Buckingham Otter Trail. We are part of CPJ Field, a leading family-run funeral service provider which operates funeral homes across South East England. At CPJ Field we understand that no two lives are the same, which is why every funeral we arrange is completely individual too. Whether you’re making the arrangements for a loved one or prudently planning your own, we’re here for you in every way. Over the past three centuries, CPJ Field has been actively owned and managed by the Field family through ten generations. It is our solemn promise to help you to make your funeral experience as personal and individual as possible.
Otter name: Canalotto
Artist: Zoe Day
Zoë Day is a professional artist who has lived in and around Buckingham all of her life. Zoë studied art from a young age learning to paint wildlife with her grandmother. She went on to learn techniques and methods from some of the most prestigious art institutions including the Florence Academy, Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art and the Heatherley’s in Chelsea. Zoë set up her own Art School in 2010 and is still passionate about teaching the joy of painting in her weekly classes, while principally engaged in modern landscape painting and exhibition/commission work.
Zoë’s inspiration for this otter comes from her love of the Buckinghamshire landscape and countryside and is a celebration of this amazing project by the Canal Society to transform a disused waterway into a beautiful sanctuary for local wildlife. Try to see how many different creatures you can spot on her design!
The Buckingham Canal Society are proud to be supporting the Buckingham Otter trail. Our aim is to fully restore the 10 miles of the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal, from Cosgrove right through to Buckingham. At Bourton Meadow, where our otter is located, you can see a restored ¼ mile stretch of the canal, which is a haven for many species of wildlife and flora, including kingfishers, reed warblers, herons, various butterflies, dragonflies and fish species, water voles, and even grass snakes, which love a swim on a warm day’!
‘We welcome new members and volunteers to join us; membership starts from just £4 per year - and our volunteers need no skills other than a desire to get involved, whether weekly or infrequently. We hold regular work parties at Bourton Meadow, Hyde Lane (2 miles from Buckingham) and Cosgrove, during the week and on weekends, or you can volunteer to help with admin, finance, marketing, grant applications - and much more. You can find out more at www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk’
‘We would like to give a special thank you to our amazing Otter Artist, Zoe Day, who is from Buckingham who painted the wonderful Canalotto’.
Otter name: Lockii
Artist: Young people at My FutureSelf Matters
MyFutureSelf Matters with the support from local residents Charlotte and Justin who wanted to highlight the amazing work Carl was doing for local Buckingham School children: "We covered the otter in a key/padlock covering to highlight MyFutureSelf unlocking the potential of young people in the Buckingham area. We then got our young people to come up with words that related to their lives and that tied in with emotional well-being, these words were then coloured in by some of the young people completing our mentoring programme’. The young people chose the name Lockii because this is a reflection of the lock and key covering.is a mentoring service who support young people in Buckinghamshire with their mental health, lifestyle and wellbeing.
Carl is the founder and owner of MyFutureSelf Matters. It is a mentoring service that supports young people in Buckinghamshire with their mental health, lifestyle and wellbeing. They offer 1:1 support in person or online and work with children from 10 to 24 years old. MyFutureSelf Matters aim to equip young people with tools and strategies to increase their emotional health, resilience and improve their overall well-being.
Otter name: Prints of the Future
Artist: Roundwood School
We wanted all Roundwood children to be part of painting our otter for the trail so we decided the best way to do that was by decorating our sculpture with fingerprints. We named our otter 'Prints of the Future' as one day, in the not-too-distant future, it will be the hands from these prints that serve our community. The children thoroughly enjoyed decorating with their fingerprints and watching as the number of prints grew with a visit to each year group. We have to say we really fell for our otter sculpture and were all sad when it had to be collected but we hope people will enjoy finding it as a part of the trail.
Gawcott Solar CIC is a not for profit enterprise which owns a community solar array at Gawcott Fields Farm between Gawcott and Buckingham. The 4.17 megawatt solar array is made up of over 16,000 solar panels and is expected to generate over 4 million kWh of renewable electricity each year. That’s equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 1,000 homes. Surplus income generated by the solar array (after operating and financing costs) is used so support community projects in the local area.
Otter name: Lacey
Artist: Lace Hill Academy
The children were really excited to be part of the community otter project. The first thing we did was to decide if it was a boy or a girl. We put boy and girl written on two pieces of paper in a hat and one was pulled out. Girl was drawn, so we named her Lacey. The idea for the pattern was inspired by the history of the area around Lace Hill and Buckingham. Many of the street names have a lace or sewing source, Catchpin Street, Bobbins Way, Threads Lane and Linen Lane. I thought it would be relevant to our estate and the Buckingham area to try and reflect and depict the historical lace-making past. I thought decorating the otter with a lacey pattern would reflect this. The children painted the base colour of dark purple and cream for her tummy and then a ‘lacey’ pattern was stenciled on the top with a doily to break up the base colour. They worked in small groups throughout the week to stencil the patterns. The children then wanted to add some bright colours so they decided on yellows for the tummy and tail and pinks for the main body. The children were very proud of the finished result and were sad when Lacey left to get varnished.
Barratt David Wilson Homes is part of Barratt Developments plc - the country’s leading house-builder. Barratt is committed to building quality homes and this year received more NHBC Pride in the Job Quality awards than any other house-builder for the 16th year in a row and was awarded 5 stars by the HBF for customer satisfaction for the eleventh year in a row.
As a house-builder that is committed to supporting the communities in which it builds, Barratt David Wilson Homes, who are currently building at selection of 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 bedroom homes at its St Rumbold’s Fields development in Buckingham, is proud to sponsor the Buckingham Otter Trail this year. It’s a great opportunity for residents and visitors to get behind local businesses and engage with a fantastic community event, as well as adding some fun public art to the local area.
Otter name: Patchy
Artist: Maids Moreton C of E School
Our Year 2 class chose an Elmer inspired patchwork design for our otter. The whole class took part, with each child designing and painting a section. The children wanted to make his fur appear realistic so opted for tones of brown. They thoroughly enjoyed the design process and were very proud of their finished product.
Howes the Florist has been on Nelson Street in Buckingham for over 70 years, offering flowers for all of life's big occasions and here to celebrate the small joys too. Our hand delivery floral gifts are created by our wonderful team and available 6 days a week, delivered locally.
The otter trail is a wonderful idea and having grown up in this beautiful market town we wanted to be part of raising the profile of our amazing local community. We are fortunate to be among the families benefitting for YC2 (Young Careers Buckingham), Our three children have attended village schools, as have my parents, Grandparents, Aunts and siblings. The pandemic has shown what an amazing community spirit we have in Buckingham and we are so proud to be part of this wonderful town.
Otter name: Olive Otterson
Sponsor/Artist: The University of Buckingham
Olive Otterson was decorated by the Students' Union.
The University is delighted to participate in the Otter Trail initiative. Positive relationships with our local community are really important to the university and we love seeing residents enjoying our campus facilities. The University has educated thousands of students from all over the word for almost fifty years and we employ many of our staff from within the community. We hope the Otter Trail and our University Otter will encourage families to make use of the University Bookshop and (if Covid guidelines allow) that you make a visit to the Vinson Building and experience the University Café. We very much look forward to welcoming you.
The University of Buckingham Bookshop owner Alison Cameron: “We are the only independent bookshop in Buckingham and you can find us in the Vinson Building on Hunter Street. We stock all sorts of beautiful books and our in-store selection of children’s books are always half price! We can get most books the next day and there is a lovely local customer discount. We recommend based on our customer reviews and also work with local schools making sure the best books are available to all ages of children. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or email email@example.com or call on 01280 820365. We are passionate about promoting a love of reading whether you’re 1 or 101!"
Otter name: Monty
Artist: Bourton Meadow Academy
There was much excitement when we received our otter and decisions turned to how it should be decorated. Many suggestions were submitted but we decided to settle on a doodle design in the style of Mr Doodle. We felt this would allow the children maximum range of creativity whilst have a theme running throughout all the designs. We liked the idea of lots of individual ideas being knitted together through the use of simple black lines.
The children were introduced to the work of Mr Doodle and asked to design their own doodle idea to be included on the otter. We wanted the children to be able to express their own creativity so left the theme quite open. Initially, we had ideas come in that were quite animal based and you’ll see some designs around Disney too.
Bucks Radio is the new sound of Buckinghamshire, aiming to bring local radio back to the county. We've been overwhelmed by the support we've received so far, and are looking forward to becoming a part of Bucks life. Between them, our team have been working, and broadcasting, in the area for over 40 years, so we understand what matters to you. Right now we're broadcasting online, via smart speakers and app, meaning you can take us with you wherever you go. We have the latest news, weather and travel, and loads of community information, including our free What's On Guide and features like Charity Friday.
We're supporting local business, and have a variety of advertising and sponsorship packages available, and are happy to talk about bespoke competitions and partnerships. We are looking forward to the relaxation of current restrictions so that we can get out and about in the local community again.
We were invited to take part in the Buckingham Town Council’s project intended to encourage families to come back into the town centre after the restrictions of the last 18 months.
Week one was when the team were introduced to the metre-high, life-sized Otter who quickly was named ‘Jimmy Fisher’. The team walked around him, studied him and took part in a 10 question UK Otter Quiz which helped them make their designs really personal to our own otter population. Each of the team produced separate designs - it became clear that our Jimmy Fisher would reflect the local countryside - meadows of waving grass and reeds, wildflowers including dandelions, daisies and thistles. Insects vital to a healthy ecosystem were included-bright yellow and black bees, blue/white/lemon butterflies and a glowing sun and rainbow to signify the elements needed for a healthy countryside.
YC2’s logo is a big red balloon with ‘YC2’ written on it, it is on the young carer and volunteer hoodies and tee shirts, so balloons floating in the blue sky was an essential addition to Jimmy’s main body with fluffy white clouds scudding across. His head was brown and he had bright blue eyes. Small woodland and waterside animals also were drawn as of course otters share their habitat with lots of other wild creatures.
Week 2: the start, it was a bit daunting as at that stage he seemed VERY WHITE and VERY LARGE, but the team quickly started on the main areas of his body.
Week 3-7: Local artist Kate Lowe and owner of bagsymefirst.com came on board to help advise the children on the overall concept so that all of their ideas could be incorporated. As the weeks went on Jimmy became very important to us all, he represented the freedom that many young carers do not always have, and he was seen as strong and living as part of the natural world we all know is so important. She took Jimmy home each Friday night after the latest painting had been done, to sketch on more of the children’s designs ready for the following week.
Jimmy certainly reflects the individual approach of the Team, the girls love a ‘bit of bling’ so the clouds and balloons, even the edges of the reeds and grasses had little spots of glitter applied. One of the first designs showed thistledown floating in the sky, so artist Kate took all 65 sets of initials of our current register and painted them on in the tiniest lettering ever seen. Jimmy Fisher will always have a record of each young carer who is a member of YC2 in 2020/21. Further inspiration came and Jimmy has a pretty daisy chain necklace and is holding a large fish that he has just caught and is about to enjoy!
Otter name: Flo
Artist: Derryn Snowdon and staff at Buckingham Community Hospital
Sponsor: Buckingham Town Council
Derryn Snowdon, Inspired Marbling: "I began water marbling in Istanbul. We call it 'ebru' in Turkish and it is an ancient art of creating patterns on a watery base and then transferring them to paper (usually). Marbling an otter was an adventure for me as an amateur water marbling artist. The size and shape of the statue was a challenge and I needed all my creative powers to find ways to get more of Flo marbled.
Possibility, challenge, adventure: "I took the otter to Buckingham Hospital staff, who named her, whilst taking turns to try their hand at water marbling for the very first time. I taught them some of the practices and terms in traditional Turkish marbling and they took to it like …well like an otter to water! Flo was named after Florence Nightingale, and echo's the flow in water marbling design and the water where otters live. Flo represents a journey of exploration for us all. The non-marbled parts provide a neutral background to display the marbled parts. The smudges and incomplete patterns draw you in to complete the pattern in your mind. I hope as you enjoy exploring Flo and our marbling art you will wonder what marbling pattern would you have liked to add to Flo?"