A public art event which makes puffins the stars of stories of conservation, global warming and green energy has taken off with the installation of the first sculptures in a trail stretching along the coast of East Yorkshire.
Organisers of Puffins Galore! placed the first sculpture at the RSPB Centre at Bempton, home to almost half a million seabirds which cram onto the cliffs every year. The second puffin was installed at North Landing, Flamborough, with another in the centre of the village and a fourth at Sewerby Hall.
From there the installation team from Hull-based Strata Group – one of the sponsors of the project – headed into Bridlington, where 10 sculptures will be displayed.
During the rest of the week, the remaining puffins will be delivered to coastal locations in Hornsea, Withernsea and Spurn Point as well as to inland sites at Patrington, Hull, Beverley and Cottingham.
Once all 42 puffins are in place, the Puffins Galore! website will officially launch the trail by posting details of every location and pictures of every design.
Rick Welton, co-director of Puffins Galore!, said:
“Seeing our puffins settling into their new homes is the reward for months of hard work by so many people involved in the project and we are immensely grateful to all of them.
“There’s the factory in Poland where a lot of the manufacturing had to stop because some of the workers are from Ukraine, the artists across the region who came up with some wonderful designs and fantastic paintwork, the sponsors who have supported the project in such difficult times and the delivery teams who have covered hundreds of miles dropping off plinths and puffins.”
Rick and Puffins Galore! project manager and co-director Clare Huby were both involved in the hugely successful Larkin with Toads in 2010 and the follow-up A Moth for Amy in 2016.
The initial investment and support was provided by key partner Yorkshire Coast BID and project partner Visit East Yorkshire with the aim of raising the area’s profile as a tourist destination.
Artists submitted more than 150 designs in response to a brief setting out three core themes of endangered wildlife of the coasts and seas, the global warming crisis and the growth of green energy, and people and stories of the East Yorkshire coast.
Saffron said: “Mine is about the birds that migrate, such as swifts and swallows, and highlights how hard their life is and their journey to reproduce and survive. But it’s not just puffins, it’s all sorts of creatures that are up against global warming.
“If I wasn’t an artist I would be doing something around conservation, maybe breeding whooping cranes! I am all about wildlife and alternative energy. I live my life in an environmentally friendly way.
“I think this is the best project of its kind so far. The painting is phenomenal and the designs are out of this world. They really are fantastic and everybody has excelled themselves. There are artists who previously worked on the toads and the moths and who have built up their skills. You can see how they have grown through their careers, and there is a lot of passion because of the themes.
“I worked with five students at East Riding College. It took them a while to get into the idea of what was needed, what we were trying to achieve, but once the puffins arrived they were getting the paint out and I think they have addressed some of the very important issues behind the project.”
Sponsors and partners include businesses and other organisations from across East Yorkshire and further afield.
Guest and Philips Jewellers sponsored “Wall Things Bright & Beautiful.”
Karen Guest, a partner in the firm, said:
“We are proud to be sponsoring one of the puffins in the Puffins Galore! trail and supporting the four charities. We have chosen a beautiful design by which features the amazing wildlife looking inland from the coast and much of which we see on the beautiful Westwood at the edge of Beverley. We are excited to see our puffin in place in July.”
Tracey Murray, head of the curriculum for creative arts and digital skills at East Riding College, said:
“East Riding College are delighted to be involved in the Puffins Galore! project. It has been a unique opportunity for our art students to get involved in a community installation that has kicked off their careers as professional artists.”
Clare Huby said the puffins will remain in place until the end of October before being sold either to their sponsors or at a grand charity auction which will raise funds for Hornsea Inshore Rescue, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, RNLI, and the RSPB.
Clare said: “Having worked on Larkin with Toads and A Moth for Amy we know how much the public enjoy animal sculpture trails and we’re bracing ourselves for an exciting week and a social media frenzy as people see the puffins in their new homes.
“We’re confident people will take to the highways and by-ways of East Yorkshire to track down the puffins, take in some of the region’s tourist attractions and swamp us with selfies!”
To find out more about Puffins Galore! and to download the puffin spotter’s guide and other information which will go live on Saturday 2 July please visit http://puffinsgalore.co.uk/
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