Cotswolds AONB Hare Trail 2018: Hare they come

Candia McKormack with the Cotswold Life hare, 'Hare and there around the Cotswolds'

Candia McKormack with the Cotswold Life hare, 'Hare and there around the Cotswolds' - Credit: Archant

It’s that time of year when the Cotswold countryside becomes home to some very unusual-looking sculptures… will you find them all?

The Cotswold Life Hare by Candia McKormack

The Cotswold Life Hare by Candia McKormack - Credit: Archant

If you spend any time at all exploring the Cotswolds this summer, the chances are you’ll come across a hare – be it a five-foot moongazer, an 18-inch leveret or three-foot perky-eared springer – in fact, you’re likely to discover scores of them as they make their way out into the world as part of the Cotswolds AONB Hare Trail.

Now in its fifth year, this time round the trail has spread even further afield, with over 130 to find, all decorated by local artists and sponsored by local businesses.

Phillip Kingsbury

Phillip Kingsbury - Credit: Archant

“What the Hare Trail amply demonstrates is the amazing variety of individual artistic interpretations,” says festival director Florence Beetlestone. “Here you have the same basic sculptures with the same brief and there are 130 different ways of creating that image. Each artist brings their own experience and unique concept to the Trail.”

So, if you fancy haring round the Cotswolds spotting this beautiful beasts, pick up a trail guide and passport from one of the area’s Tourist Information Centres and, if you spot 20 or more, note down their codes and you’ll be entered into a prize draw.

Sarah Davies

Sarah Davies - Credit: Archant

What are you waiting for? Get out there, find the hares, enjoy the beautiful countryside, and do your bit for supporting Cotswolds AONB projects!

Visit the Cotswolds Hare Trail website here.

Stephen Belinfante with festival director Florence Beetlestone (c) Anna Lythgoe Photography

Stephen Belinfante with festival director Florence Beetlestone (c) Anna Lythgoe Photography - Credit: Archant

Cotswold Life deputy editor Candia McKormack has painted her sculpture to show the imaginary travels of the hare around the Cotswold countryside. ‘Hare and there around the Cotswolds’ features a map across the back, showing recognisable Cotswold landscapes, incorporating hare-based puns, such as ‘Woodchest-hare Mansion’, ‘Hare-ty Pegglar’s Tump’ and ‘Hare-brained’ (for Cooper’s Hill cheese-rolling). “I loved that many artists had fun with puns on previous trails, and so, as I’m a fan of maps, I wanted to bring one into the design and play around with the names. It was bags of fun to do!”

Florence King, aged six (c) Paul Nicholls Photography

Florence King, aged six (c) Paul Nicholls Photography - Credit: PIC PAUL NICHOLLS

Another regular Hare Trail artist Phillip Kingsbury describes how he works: “My work always starts with a quick rough sketch, then it is redrawn several times until I am happy with its composition. I find with the hare this is a good positive challenge due to the curves and contours of the hare. I want the hare to be bright and bold, slightly abstract in terms of design. I find the process very fun and love seeing the hare evolve as I paint it. My hare ‘Animals of the Cotswolds’ has animals amongst the leaves and branches – lots of insects, beetles and butterflies that people can enjoy spotting.”

Julie Burdon-Stone

Julie Burdon-Stone - Credit: Archant

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Experienced Trail Artist Sarah Davis who has painted ‘Alfred’s Orchard’ drew on her mother’s childhood memories. “My design attempts to capture the joy of Alfred, my grandfather sharing his orchard with the grandchildren and great grandchildren he never met. It’s a poignant story but one I hope will bring great happiness.”

Regular Trail artist Stephen Belinfante takes on a bold, colourful approach. “I love bright, contrasting colours and textures. I begin by spraying the hare with acrylic aerosols, drawing shapes and lines that reflect its undulating contours. The contours are then emphasised through the use of painted lines and collaged strips – just like a three¬dimensional map. The spaces between the contours are then filled with acrylic paint in loosely¬mixed pinks, oranges, yellows and blues. Some paint drips and splashes across the surface, adding to the freshness and vitality of the completed design.”

Lucy Brown took her leveret around the nurseries and schools of Farringdon. ‘The Thumb Prince of Farringdon’ is painted using finger and thumb prints of the children who go to school in Farringdon. “He represents our carbon print for future generations of the town and community.”

Susannah King, new to the Trail this year has not only decorated one leveret and two springers (‘Isopleth’ and ‘Celeste’), but has involved her husband, artist Chris, and daughters Florence and Grace. Her work is “predominantly based on abstracted landscapes. I have to take inspiration from my surroundings. I am particularly fascinated by organic formations and geological strata.” Chris’s springer ‘Raymond the Rambler’ represents two views: “I wanted to combine the adult painted perspective alongside the children’s painted perspective on the same landscape, and believe that each benefits the other in terms of visual honesty and reality.”

Pete Tatham, an artist working with the Ernest Cook Trust, has a background in sculpture. His second Trail hare ‘Hare 2day Gone 2morrow’ was worked with students on the ECT estate in Fairford. Pete says, “We encourage students to work on real life projects to develop their skills, rather than simply learning techniques. They are completely engaged with the construction of the hare this year. Unwanted ivy, cut and stripped from trees on the estate, has been painstakingly shaped and bound around the hare to depict the intertwined relationships between animals and their environment.”

Student Sophie says, “I love using the band saw and the sander. Hands-on learning seems to stick in my head better than in a classroom.”

Bethan Mae-James is aware of the dilemmas of living and working in the countryside. “I am passionate about urban and town planning and believe new towns should be focussed on sustainable communities with green living spaces, and ethical branding to complement their surroundings with the emphasis on appreciating and respecting nature. My interpretation of ‘Hare¬cules’, based on the mythical character renowned for his 12 labours, reflects both the expansion of the universe and the developing challenges and changes happening across the Cotswolds. Hare¬cules highlights the concern and impact light pollution has on nature.”

An artist new to the Trail, Julie Burdon-Stone, chose to depict the rich flora and fauna in her design ‘Harewold’. “Hares are ethereal and link us with our past when humans were more in tune with nature. Nature provides constant inspiration and is a common theme of my work. The Cotswolds has a special place in my heart, and through this work I hope to communicate my vision of this beautiful place.”

The Trail has promoted the involvement this year of student and pupil art. Gloucester College of Art & Design student Kathryn Canvin has drawn on past artists for inspiration. “This hare is inspired by the flowers and plants of the Cotswolds and the designs of artists and designers such as William Morris that have used flowers as a rich source of inspiration.”

Her fellow student takes on a very different idea. Alexander Dynes Martinez has designed ‘Harem Scarem’ - the hearty spirit guide based on the Day of the Dead event. “As human beings we have a connection to animals who walk amongst us or to the ones who live in our dreams. Whether it’s a pet or a spirit we bond with, animals are sentient beings that make our world whole.”

Farmors student Will Axel-Berg’s hare reflects his own experience. “My hare design was influenced by my life on the farm and going beating and shooting.” His realistically painted hare is designed “wearing the outfit it might wear if going off on a local shoot”.