This autumn Brighton will be hit by mollusc mania, as fifty giant snail sculptures, each uniquely decorated by different artists and sponsored by a local business, will sneak their way onto the streets of Brighton & Hove. Championed and supported by Brighton’s own creative mogul Normal Cook aka Fat Boy Slim, the event will run for 9 weeks, from Saturday 15th September until Sunday 18th November 2018, encouraging locals to become tourists in their own city, spend time with friends and family hunting for every sculpture, and, to engage with the event’s key campaign message of #BeMoreSnail.
#BeMoreSnail is the motto of Snailspace, the UK’s first sculpture trail featuring giant gastropods, which is being organised by Martlets Hospice in conjunction with event partners, Wild in Art. The idea behind #BeMoreSnail, is to encourage people to slow down, enjoy the moment and spend more time with the people they love. It resonates with the philosophy behind the life-changing care provided by the hospice, and, at the end of the event, the sculptures will be auctioned off to raise money for it.
Norman Cook has a reputation for championing artists and most recently commissioned urban artist, Bordalo II, to create a giant sculpture of a seagull from recycled plastic at his Big Beach Cafe. He’s also no stranger to giant animal sculptures as in 2016 he sponsored a Snowdog, as part of Snowdogs by the Sea. Called ‘Boomer’, it was transformed into a working Boom Box by Ryca and sold for £20,000.
Norman explains why he’s involved in the project:“ I loved the experience of being involved in Snowdogs by the Sea. The giant canine sculptures captured peoples’ imaginations and really brought the city together. The snail is an inspired choice as I love the idea of something usually so small being made large. I also love the fact that you just bump into a sculpture on your way into work, or your everyday journey, and it just makes you smile. There is also something about the whole idea of #BeMoreSnail which resonates. I think it is important to slow down and spend a bit more time doing the things we love, with the people we love.”
He continues on why he wanted to collaborate with Cassette Lord: “I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time and this seemed like a great project to work on together. I know he’s going to bring something special to the snail….. We ‘re also planning an exhibition of street art when the project goes live in September.”
The event also has the backing of some of the city’s celebrity residents. Superstar DJ, Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, will have his very own snail designed by street artist, Cassette Lord. Best-selling crime author, Peter James will have a snail based on his highly acclaimed Roy Grace series and popular vlogger and boyfriend of Zoella, Alfie Deyes, will also have a giant snail on the route. A comprehensive map and an interactive App will also support the sculpture hunt. The App will encourage visitors to ‘bag’ as many sculptures as possible by tracking how many snails they have found, enable them to vote for their favourites, and, unlock special ‘rewards’ each time a sculpture is found.
Businesses across the city are also backing the campaign, from Brighton institutions such as The Brighton Palace Pier, Donatello’s and Theatre Royal to newer attractions such as the i360. It has also found support amongst many corporates and B2B companies. Many want to support Martlets, as it is a charity that touches the lives of everyone living locally. Others are keen to support a campaign that brings such a life affirming, feel-good community event to the city. However, some are also embracing the business benefits of the #BeMoreSnail idea, which places importance on work life balance, recognising that happy staff are also more productive.
The event has attracted both established well-known artists and some just starting out on their careers. Cassette Lord, the celebrated street artist, is collaborating with Fatboy Slim to create his snail which has a retro aesthetic and hides hidden talents!
Also involved is Danni Smith is a young, local artist whose design was chosen by The Ivy in the Lanes restaurant. It is her first big commission and she’s delighted to be involved in the project and explains what her inspiration was:
“I’ve got an allotment and feel it’s really important to incorporate bee-friendly plants as bees are decreasing in numbers. My snail will be covered in choisya, sunflowers, poppies, roses, michaelmas daisies and even dandelions which people often think of as weeds, but they are an important plant for bees. Each season will be reflected to show how easy it is to grow bee-friendly plants all year round. My sponsor is The Ivy restaurant and during Snailspace they’ll making a few bee-related adjustments to their menu which is amazing.”
Many of the artists creating a snail for Snailspace are using a bright colour palette but perhaps none will be as vibrant as local artist Francesca McLeod’s snail. She explains what inspired her design:
“I wanted my snail to represent Brighton and it’s diverse and vibrant nature and so it’s going to be very colourful and fun and has a drag queen theme. The design will have a hint of the Pride flag as that festival is such a big event in the Brighton calendar.
I’m incorporating various elements of male and female drag and my design will include a beard, vibrant make-up, glitter, pearlescent paint and lots of twinkle. My usual colour palette as an artist is more muted so it’s great to be able to be bolder with this project. Working on the snails together with other artists in a warehouse space means we’re able share ideas and tips, and there’s a really great community feel.”
Well known in the city for their urban murals, Charlotte and Dan Doherty, artists known as Art and Believe, have based their design on their travels to South America and have named it Inca Snail.
Dan said: “We see the spiral of the shell as a journey. The snail is a bit like a backpacker but carrying its home on its back instead. We have used an intricate pattern like you’d find in textiles but blown it up so it is bold.” Charlotte said: “
“I think ‘be more snail’ means chilling out, slowing down and taking control of your wellbeing. It’s a good message, rather than rushing and going mad it’s important to take care of yourself. When we travelled for example, we stopped in places for a while to paint with local people.”
Painter and Potter Tina Davies will be using an unusual technique to transform her snail. She explains:
“I’m being sponsored by Martlets Care. The Martlets is really special to me – I have visited the hospice a number of times and know people who have spent time there so I’m really happy to be involved with Snailspace.
I paint using the tips of my fingers to make a range of marks. I trained as a potter, so I was used to getting my hands into whatever I was doing and then I went on a life-drawing course where you had to paint with your feet, fingers, a bamboo stick – anything but a brush. For me, it really made sense so that’s what I’ve done ever since. When you paint with your fingers it allows you to get closer to your subject and you can feel your way into it.
I love gardening and flowers and I’ve been inspired to paint poppies on my snail as they reflect the ephemeral nature of life. Poppies are so fragile looking yet have the resilience to grow almost anywhere. They are self-seeding and the cycle of life carries on – that’s what I wanted to represent. There’s a lovely field of poppies up at the back of the Brighton Amex stadium which is really worth visiting over the summer.
Poppies don’t last for long and they are a reminder about being in the moment. A snail does that as well, it lives life at a slower pace and we can learn so much from that way of being. I try to be mindful and live my life that way so painting a snail feels appropriate!”
For more information or to download a map visit www.snailspacebrighton.co.uk