This time last year we were all eagerly awaiting the big reveal of the public art trail, The Big Sleuth. Just in case you were living under a rock last summer, The Big Sleuth ran from July through to September 2017 and was one of Birmingham’s best art trails yet – in part because it featured 100 beautiful hand painted bears from local artists.
The aim of the trail, created by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, was to encourage people of all walks of life to spot all the bears that were dotted all around the city and surrounding areas – which had a really positive effect not only on tourism but also on community spirit.
We’re huge fans of The Big Sleuth at UrbanWorkSpace, so much so that you may have noticed two of the bears in our Branston Court and Steward Street offices. While we eagerly anticipate Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s next art trail, we decided to catch up with Megan Evans, the creative mind behind Gas Street Bearsin (who now resides in Branston Court’s reception) to learn more about how she got involved in the project.
So Megan, what was your inspiration behind Gas St Bearsin?
The Gas St Bearsin was inspired by the Peaky Blinder gang from Birmingham as well as our famous Birmingham canal system. It’s a bit of a nod towards the industrial factory workers in the early 1900’s.
Nice! Gas St Bearsin is really detailed, how did you approach the task of painting your bear?
This was the first project I’d worked on like this on my own, so everything was brand new. I took the process step by step, sketching out the full design on the blank bear first. I then painted a small section at a time in acrylic paint, working on the head first, then the jacket, working my way down to the scenes on the back and front of the bear before finally popping a graffiti varnish on to protect the design.
In total, I spent 93 hours over 2 weeks painting The Gas St Bearsin…a lot of biscuits were eaten during the process to power through!
That’s true commitment! What made you decide to get involved in The Big Sleuth project?
I absolutely loved The Big Hoot when that was in Birmingham, and having helped a friend paint one of the owls before, I knew I had to be involved as soon as I heard The Big Sleuth was coming! I agonised for months after sending my final design in as to whether my design had been picked, and was over the moon when I found out I’d got one. Not only was I able to be involved in such an amazing art project, but also something that gives so much to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Are you happy with your creation’s new home at UrbanWorkSpace?
UrbanWorkSpace is the perfect setting for The Gas St Bearsin. As a brummie, I’m sure he feels completely at home in the Birmingham based offices and gets lots of attention from the people working around him! I’m so glad he stayed local and people can still enjoy him here.
If you could design another bear what would you do next time?
Oh this is a hard one! I did design and paint another bear which was cricket themed called Woakesy @ Edgbearston, and that was so much fun! But if I could design one just for me, I’d do a Morris Dancing Bear. I’m a Morris Dancer myself and it’s such a fantastic English tradition, that I’d like to pay a little homage to that!
Of all the other bears you’ve seen across Birmingham, which was your favourite? You can’t pick your own!
I loved so many of them, but my favourite was Captain Blue Bear…who doesn’t love a pirate bear?
Megan Evans is a tattoo artist who resides in Birmingham, you can learn out more about Megan and her art on her Facebook and Twitter pages. Find out more about what made UrbanWorkSpace owner, Gerry Pountney, decide to give Gas St Bearsin and the Honeybear new homes at two of our offices.