THERE are just two weekends left to take part in the fabulous Big Hoot Owl Trail across Birmingham.
For the past few months adults and children have been grabbing or downloading their trail maps and heading off into the city centre – and further afield – to track down and tick off the 89 fabulous giant owl sculptures which have been hand-designed by an array of well-known and up-and-coming artists, including critically-acclaimed graffiti artist Temper; son of Birmingham and Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne and self-confessed Doctor Who fanatic, Stephen McKay, who designed the extremely popular ‘Dr Whoot’.
The Big Hoot, presented by public art specialists Wild in Art, in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital, has been taken firmly under Birmingham’s wing, with visitors flocking from far and wide to explore the city’s streets, parks and open spaces, all of which have been turned into a virtual aviary.
The owls will continue to inhabit the city until Sunday, September 27 before being sold to collectors and businesses at Thinktank science museum to raise vital cash for the Children’s Hospital.
The auction will be hosted by Fieldings Auctioneers, co-founded by Nick Davies from BBC’s Flog it! and Will Farmer from BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and is expected to raise £500,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
To see what all the Twit Twooh was about, Solihull Observer editor Chris Willmott took flight into the heart of the trail.
First things first – you have to acquire your Big Hoot Trail Map – or Little Hoot Trail Map for the youngsters – either by downloading the app, downloading the map from the website or picking up a hard copy from The Owltlet in the Great Western Arcade, the Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, New Street Travel Centre and many other outlets around the city.
Map in hand, the city is now yours for the searching.
The owls are spread out at various locations in the city centre – and further afield should you wish to venture out.
We opted to stay in the city centre, which was as far as our four-and-a-half-year-old daughter’s legs could manage and provided easy access to fuel for her efforts.
We had been planning our visit for ages – and the wait was well worth it – especially as it was the little one’s first ever visit to the ‘big smoke’.
The buzz of reading the map, tracking the owls down and then having your photo taken with them is such an excitement for the children, thousands of whom have done just that.
Then there’s the big debate about which is your favourite and why, which is mummy’s and daddy’s favourite – and which would be Honey (the dog’s) favourite if she had been included on the day out.
My favourite was the Ozzy Owl incase you’re wondering.
Don’t be fooled – the trail is by no means just for the kids.
The youthful side of every adult will, no doubt, enjoy the owl hunt in itself.
But when you find them, there is so much to appreciate from an artistic level – form the art itself to who created it.
The whole trail is quite simply a fun day out, no matter how little or how much of it you complete.
The fact the entire project is for such a worthy cause gives it an added extra charm too.
To that end, the owls will all be up for auction at at ThinkTank in Birmingham city centre on the evening of Thursday, October 15.
The bidding for each owl is expected to start in the region of £3,000-£5,000, with favourites such as Dr Whoot and Ozzy’s Owl expected to raise considerably more.
Louise McCathie, Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this project.
“The Big Hoot has already brought so much joy to thousands of children in Birmingham and will continue to do so for years to come with the money that will be raised through the auction.”
Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art, said: “The Big Hoot has provided Birmingham the chance to rediscover their city, and to some, the owls will be priceless.”
If you’ve seen an owl you want to give a home to, visit www.thebighoot.co.uk/auction or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The Big Hoot Trail will remain in situ until the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, September 26 and 27.
There will be a farewell weekend at Millennium Point on Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11 where all the owls will be lined up alongside each other to give people the final chance to see them ahead of the auction on October 15.
If you haven’t already been – do make sure you take the opportunity to see at least some of the owls and enjoy this unique and fabulous experience.
Visit: www.thebighoot.co.uk for more information.