Ipswich artist Lois Cordelia paints a SunBear for Birmingham trail

May 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Ipswich artist Lois Cordelia hit the local headlines last Summer for her golden pig, Pig-geswyk, which formed part of the Ipswich Pigs Gone Wild trail. Lois has since gone on to secure two further Wild in Art commissions, including a Jane Austen inspired BookBench (for Sitting With Jane, Basingstoke) and most recently a giant SunBear, which will be on public display for 10-weeks this summer (July to September 2017) as part of another free public art trail in Birmingham: The Big Sleuth.


Presented by Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and creative producers Wild in Art, The Big Sleuth will see up to 100 giant bear statues (and bear cubs created by schools and young people) leave their paw prints throughout the city and all over the West Midlands before being auctioned in mid October 2017 to raise money for the charity. The individually designed sculptures (165 cm tall) will appear throughout Birmingham this Summer, inspiring residents and tourists alike to uncover its cultural gems and discover areas they may not have explored before.

Birmingham will be known as Bear-mingham in 2017. The trail goes live on Monday 10th July.


The sun bear (Helarctos Malayanus), also called the "honey bear" for its love of honey, is the smallest, least familiar and among the rarest of all bear species, native to tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia. It is easily recognised by the crescent shaped patch of paler fur on its breast. It is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Big Sleuth, so named because 'sleuth' is the collective noun for a group of bears, is the highly-anticipated sequel to Birmingham’s The Big Hoot, which attracted more than 800,000 visitors in 2015 and raised over £625,000 in total for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. The term 'sleuth' also refers to a detective, which is most appropriate for an art trail that encourages visitors to explore and investigate their surroundings in more detail.

This second free public art trail is expected to attract thousands of local, regional and national visitors to the city.


Lois Cordelia’s design for The Big Sleuth is called "Taj Mahal by Sun and Moon" and is inspired by one of the major themes chosen for the 2017 trail to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence as well as Birmingham City Council's Year of South Asian Culture (Utsav). In the context of these themes, the regal, grounded stance and cosmic theme of the SunBear suggested to Lois the monumental motif of the Taj Mahal, which has frequently featured in her speed-painting. Visitors to one of India's best known architectural landmarks often remark that the Taj Mahal is as beautiful by moonlight as it is by day, maybe more so.

Lois' design is generously sponsored by Martineau Place shopping centre in the heart of the city of Birmingham.

N.B. Lois's design for The Big Sleuth, "Taj Mahal by Sun and Moon" cannot be publicly revealed in full until the trail goes live in July 2017, but stay tuned for behind-the-scenes glimpses...! :-)

Lois is very excited to be embarking on her third Wild in Art adventure. She gains a growing reputation as a "speed-painter" working fearlessly in public, performing live art demonstrations in a wide range of venues. Notably within the context of Wild in Art, she painted her pig, Pig-geswyk, within 2 days, and her BookBench, 'Look Upon Verdure', in the space of 4.5 hours, talking to dozens of visitors as she worked. Lois will travel to Birmingham on 15th May 2017 to paint her design onto a blank Bear statue and plans to complete the entire paintwork within one day, and the varnishing the next. (N.B. Sadly, on this occasion, the allocated painting space in Birmingham city centre will not be on public view, but Lois will record her progress via a series of photographs, timelapse and video footage, to be released as soon as the trail goes live in July.) Despite being known as a "speed-painter", Lois comments that she never sees painting as a race against the clock. She simply prefers to work swiftly, painting from the shoulder with a big brush and acrylics to create sweeping lines full of movement and energy, even within an apparently static subject matter such as the majestic monument of the Taj Mahal. Her favourite motto is: Less is more.

Lois's paintings often feature shimmering, iridescent and metallic colours, which catch the light in unexpected ways as the viewer walks by. Her pig Pig-geswyk featured twin townscapes of her hometown of Ipswich, rendered in metallic gold and bronze paints, which aptly earned it the epithet of "Shimmering Pig-geswyk" in the local press
. Lois's design for Birmingham's The Big Sleuth will similarly feature iridescent paints to evoke the beauty of the "Taj Mahal by Sun and Moon".

Below: Lois Cordelia crouches beside Pig-geswyk, Ipswich, June 2016.

Follow: @LoisCordelia @TheBigSleuth #TheBigSleuth @Wild_in_Art


The Big Sleuth is the second mass-participation public arts event to take place in Birmingham.

Sally-Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art said: “We’re delighted to have some incredibly talented artists involved in The Big Sleuth and we’re so excited to see their creations on the trail this summer. The project transforms streets, parks and public spaces into a fun, free art gallery taking people on a creative journey around Birmingham.”

Elinor Eustace, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity said: “The Big Sleuth is really important to Birmingham Children’s Hospital as not only will it bring visitors into our fantastic city from all over the UK, but we also hope to raise over half a million pounds to support the pioneering work we do here every day.”

To find out more visit www.thebigsleuth.co.uk


Wild in Art

Wild in Art is one of the leading creative producers of spectacular, mass-appeal public art events which bring together business and creative sectors with schools and local communities to create a shared experience that supports the host city’s sense of identity, its economy and environment, and showcases its creativity and innovation.

Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Sydney, Melbourne, Cape Town and São Paulo and created trails for the London 2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces and Aardman Animations.

Wild in Art events have:

Attracted over 6 million additional visitors to host cities across the UK and worldwide
Contributed over £1.2m to local creative communities
Enabled over £8m to be raised for charitable causes
Engaged over 80,000 young people in creative programmes
For further information about Wild in Art visit www.wildinart.co.uk

Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity
One of just four standalone children’s hospitals in the UK, Birmingham Children’s Hospital is a world leader in paediatric healthcare with over 270,000 patient visits every year.

Delivering some of the most advanced treatments, complex surgical procedures and cutting edge research and development, in recent years the hospital’s reliance on charitable giving has increased as the Trust strives to deliver projects that go above and beyond NHS standards.

As a result, every patient and family at Birmingham Children’s Hospital will have been touched by the hospital’s charity in some way. Whether that is a newly refurbished playroom or ward, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment or even a toy at Christmas.

But the impact of fundraising on patient experience is much more than purely financial – it makes a real difference to the services it provides to children and their families during difficult times, pushing boundaries and improving standards of excellence in research, education, treatment and patient experience in order to provide the very best for the children and families in its care.

For more information on Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, please visit www.bch.org.uk.



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