The Big Hoot owls prepare their descent on Birmingham

A parliament of 89 stunning giant owls was seen hovering near the M6 last night as The Big Hoot unveiled its final designs for Birmingham’s biggest ever public art event.

In just five days, Birmingham’s streets, parks and open spaces will be turned into a virtual aviary as The Big Hoot owls begin to land across the city. Presented by public art specialists Wild in Art, in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital, tonight’s event at Fort Dunlop was Birmingham’s first chance to see the owls in all their finery before they land at their secret locations across the city from Monday 20 July.

Artists from all disciplines, including illustrators, graffiti artists, printmakers and graphic designers were joined by some of Birmingham’s most influential businesses to celebrate the hard work that they have collaboratively invested into the project.

The owls will be displayed until the end of September in some of Birmingham’s most iconic spaces. Many owls have been designed with Birmingham in mind, focusing on the city’s rich heritage and strong architectural background, including LDC and artist Martin Band’s striking ‘Selfie’ owl, which represents the emblematic Selfridges building.

Andy Lyndon, Director of LDC, who has championed The Big Hoot from the start, said:

We hope that everybody enjoys the trail and discovers all that Birmingham has to offer. We are especially proud to be sponsoring ‘Selfie’ and ‘One Giant Hoot for Owlkind’ which can be found in central Birmingham and please don’t forget to visit Alexander Stadium where you’ll see ‘Fleet and Free’”.

All the giant owls have been sponsored by Birmingham companies and organisations and at the end of the trail, they will be auctioned to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Sarah-Jane Marsh, Chief Executive at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said:

I am so excited at the thought of hundreds of vibrant owls swooping into Birmingham to fill it with colour. The innovative ‘Big Hoot’ offers families a free and fun day out, exploring areas of our city they may never have visited before, with the added bonus of helping them to stay active. This is important to us, because at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we believe leading an active lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for your family’s health, and we are committed to doing all we can to promote it”.

Libby Witherden, Head of Marketing and Events at Fort Dunlop, said:

We were delighted to present such a fantastic evening and were amazed to see so much talent on our rooftop. The Big Hoot is truly a remarkable project, and we can’t wait to see it take flight!”

Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art, said:

What a way for The Big Hoot to start! Seeing all 89 owls in one place was truly breath taking, and the scope of quality and diversity in the designs really brings to life what a talented city Birmingham is. A huge thank you is owed to all of our artists and sponsors for their part in this project and bringing Birmingham to life with colour this summer”.

There are plenty of ways to interact with The Big Hoot owls. Follow the train from the city centre to Sutton Coldfield; Kings Heath to Bournville and many places in between and enjoy beautiful open spaces, inspiring buildings and Birmingham’s cultural heritage along the way.

Enjoy cartoon owls; night owls; wise owls; celebrity owls; jewellery owls; the ‘Owl and the Pussycat’; owls from the pyramids of Egypt; Amazonian Rainforests and outer space; as well as owls that celebrate Birmingham’s landmark architecture, history, people, places, cultural diversity and more.

Visit The Owltlet in The Great Western Arcade and the Fundraising Hub and Birmingham Children’s Hospital to get your hands on a wide range of Big Hoot merchandise. From adorable collectible owl figurines to paint-your-own-owl sets to mugs and T-shirts, you are sure to find the perfect memento of the summer The Big Hoot owls took over Birmingham.

The Big Hoot’s Little Hoot, supported by Official Education Partner, The Schools of King Edward VI, is The Big Hoot’s education programme and has so far engaged over 25,000 children across the region, encouraging children and teachers alike to have fun with the curriculum. 122 owlets lovingly created by schools have now flown into leisure centres, libraries and recreation centres across Birmingham, following The Big Hoot’s Little Hoot launch at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery on Wednesday 8 July.

To find out more about how you can get involved with The Big Hoot, and to download the trail map, visit www.thebighoot.co.uk. To support The Big Hoot in raising money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, text HOOT to 70099 to donate £2 to the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity (plus network charges).

The Little Hoot trail map is now available for download at www.thebighoot.co.uk/schools.

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