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Lions at Large

Updated: May 15

Meet Zale: The sculpture standing for courage and unity in the face of cancer. Adorned with a gold leaf mane and abstract wave pattern over his body. Zale - which means strength of the sea, is a project i've been working on for Lions at Large. It has been organised by Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity to raise money for a proposed new specialist cancer care facilities in Cheltenham with digital consulting rooms, space for state-of-the-art research, as well as a therapeutic outside space. The charity has partnered with Wild in Art, which has put on trails all over the world including for the London 2012 Olympics, to create and deliver Lions at Large


Lions at Large – the Pride of Gloucestershire Trail will take place during the summer of 2025 creating a fantastic free event for all the family.


I was asked to put a design concept together for the lion and it was chosen by the charity to become the final piece. Being the first large lion to be created it's know as the hero lion, I am very honoured to be the artist responsible for creating their hero lion called "Zale" which means strength of the sea. The hero lion is used to launch the project, be the face of the campaign and attract interest in the event.



My Ideas

In creating this sculpture, my intention was for it to resonated with all those affected by cancer: patients, families, friends, healthcare professionals, and everyone navigating this challenging journey. Similarly, to include individuals in various stages of the cancer journey - from those in remission to those undergoing treatment, whether brief or prolonged, and even those facing terminal diagnoses or who have passed away. I also wanted to acknowledge the efforts of consultants, nurses and support staff, often working behind the scenes.


Above all, I sought to convey a message of solidarity: that you are not alone in your journey.


I also wanted to captivate viewers, by using the vibrant blue and gold mane, drawing them closer to discover intricate details that invite moments of introspection, contemplation and solace. For instance, the eyes feature a serene seascape, while the feet evoke the sensation of gazing upon the sea. Along the shoulders, waves ripple, inviting reflection on the ebb and flow of life's challenges.


I also wanted to connect this sculpture with my other artworks and things I've made for the hospital before. I believe that art and creativity are really important for making people feel better. Just like how this sculpture gives you a chance to stop and think, my other artworks aim to do the same, helping people find moments of calm and mindfulness.


Here is the design concept..



The sculpture sends a powerful message of strength, support, and solidarity to cancer patients and their families. It serves as a beacon of hope, reminding individuals that they are not alone in their journey and that the entire community stands behind them, ready to offer courage, comfort, and compassion every step of the way.


By intertwining the abstract wave pattern with the iconic symbol of the lion, the artwork becomes a reflection of both personal courage and collective pride, celebrating the strength and resilience of Gloucestershire residents in the face of cancer.


The abstract wave pattern, painted onto the lion sculpture, serves as a visual representation of hope and renewal amidst the challenges of cancer. Waves symbolise the ebb and flow of life, the potential for healing, and the hope of brighter days ahead.


The sculpture's colours, reminiscent of the NHS blue colouring, serve as a powerful tribute to the dedicated healthcare professionals and the compassionate care they provide throughout the cancer journey. The incorporation of gold leaf further accentuates this theme, evoking feelings of optimism, vitality, and triumph over adversity, emphasising the nobility and valour required to face adversity.


The use of gold leaf on the lion's mane not only adds a touch of luxury and opulence to the sculpture but also enhances its aesthetic appeal and visual impact. The shimmering gold accents will draw the viewer's attention, inviting them to engage with the artwork and contemplate its deeper symbolism. Delicate gold leaf also reflects the nature of those on the journey losing their hair to cancer treatments.


The sculpture stands not only as a symbol of courage and unity in the face of cancer but also as a poignant reminder of the diverse paths individuals may walk on their cancer journey. While it embodies the strength and resilience of those who confront the illness, it also tenderly acknowledges that not every journey ends in remission.


In this space of reflection and solidarity, the sculpture gently whispers that regardless of outcomes, every individual is cherished, supported, and cared for along their unique path. It serves as a beacon of compassion, offering solace and comfort to those navigating uncertain waters, celebrating the precious moments and positive experiences that can be found in their journey, no matter its duration.


Through its presence, the sculpture tenderly embraces the entirety of the cancer experience, ensuring that everyone feels seen, valued, and embraced with unwavering love and support.


Symbolism:

Abstract wave pattern on the body of the lion


A sense of movement and fluidity - cancer journey might feel stagnant or tumultuous, the waves can symbolise progress, and movement whilst navigating challenges

A metaphor for Resilience - waves crashing against obstacles but continuing their journey, a metaphor for adapting and overcoming and moving forward on cancer journey, reflecting strength and determination

Symbol of Natural Harmony - Waves often evoke a sense of natural harmony and balance. In terms of cancer journey life may feel chaotic and unbalanced, waves are symbolic of ebbs and flows, offering a sense of reassurance and hope

Symbol of Healing and Renewal - as waves cleanse the shore the visual representation for potential of healing and hope for brighter days as they navigate through their journey of recovery and transformation

Universal Symbol of Tranquility - A visual sanctuary amongst the stress and uncertainty of cancer, promoting relaxation and emotional well being during difficult times

Colours - Blue, reminiscent of NHS colouring, stability, reliability, inspiration, calm, tranquility. Gold - generosity, compassion, royal,








About the Trail


Lions at Large – the Pride of Gloucestershire Trail will take place during the summer of 2025 creating a fantastic free event for all the family.


It will see more than 30 majestic lions individually decorated by artists taking to the streets of both Cheltenham and Gloucester next year.


It has been organised by Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity to raise money for proposed new specialist cancer care facilities in Cheltenham with digital consulting rooms, space for state-of-the-art research, as well as a therapeutic outside space.


Businesses are now being asked to help sponsor each of the animals which will take pride of place at a host of stunning landmarks and interesting everyday locations. The lions will then be auctioned off to raise money for the project.


Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity Associate Director, Richard Smith, said: “We are so excited to announce this art trail, and for our lions to be at large across Cheltenham and Gloucester.


“The trail features a lion as these incredible animals represent the courage of all those who face cancer not only as a patient but as a loved one. We will be launching a major fundraising appeal for the new facilities later this year."


The charity has partnered with Wild in Art, which has put on trails all over the world including for the London 2012 Olympics, to create and deliver Lions at Large. Wild in Art events have:

· Enabled over £26.5m to be raised for charitable causes

· Injected £4.3m into local creative communities

· Engaged over 1.2 million young people in learning programmes

· Helped millions of people of all ages to experience art in non-traditional settings


Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder, Wild in Art said: "Lions at Large will bring colour and creativity to Cheltenham and Gloucester next year and we are excited to be teaming up with Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity.


“Our public art trails enable thousands of people of all ages to experience art by taking it out of traditional places and putting it into everyday life.  The trails encourage exploration and drive footfall, benefit health and wellbeing and create a collective feeling of community and pride. It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses, the creative sector, children and young people and the wider community to be part of a highly visible, collaborative and captivating project which will have significant impact.”


As well as the main sculptures, there will also be an opportunity to support a learning programme for schools and youth groups who will receive a little lion sculpture to decorate.


Both Gloucester and Cheltenham BIDs have already signed up to be the presenting partners for the trail in their respective areas.


Cheltenham BID Chief Executive, Francesca Inman said: Cheltenham BID stands tall in our support for Lions at Large - The Pride of Gloucestershire Trail. These stunning art sculptures will breathe new life and energy into our town centre. They're more than just art; they're catalysts for explorations, igniting curiosity in both visitors and residents to discover the gems of the town. I am looking forward to seeing the businesses support this trail.


Gloucester BID Manager Emily Gibbon said they were extremely proud to be supporting the trail and the charity.


We are thrilled about the opportunity it brings for our local people, businesses and the economy of Gloucestershire. We can’t wait for the streets to be roaring with fun during the summer of 2025 and of course to help raise funds for this important cause,” she said.


To find out more about the trail and how you can support visit lionsatlarge.co.uk


Wild in Art

Wild in Art is the leading producer of spectacular public art events that entertain, enrich, inform and leave a lasting legacy. It brings together businesses and creative sectors with schools and local communities through the creation of uniquely painted sculptures. Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town and São Paulo, and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Historic Royal Palaces and Penguin Random House.

Visit wildinart.co.uk or follow them on social media @wildinart or #wildinart



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