It’s not long until The Great North Snow Dogs launches across the North East (19th September – so just over a month away!) and lots of Big and Small Snowdogs pop up across the region in cultural venues, landmarks and local hidden gems.
Each Big Snowdog has been design by a professional artist; the North East and of course, Gateshead on the Gateshead Trail are set to come alive with colour from the fantastic designs!
Last week we caught up with Corinne Lewis-Ward; a brilliant Gateshead based artist and the business brains behind Powder Butterfly.
Corinne has been a long-time champion of Arts in Gateshead (and of course – Arts regionally, Nationally and Internationally). She has also been selected as an artist as part of The Great North Snow Dogs project working on two Big Snow Dogs.
We wanted to catch up with her and find out more about her work, her practice and of course, more about Snowdogs!
Hi Corinne, can you tell me a bit about your practice?
With my design company I am interested in representing well-loved landmarks from different locations in the UK. I currently have a Newcastle/Gateshead collection, a York collection and a London collection.
One Snow Dog design was inspired by my Newcastle/Gateshead collection. I have lived in the North east for 18 years and all of the landmarks hold a special place in my heart.
How did you hear about The Great North Snowdogs project?
I heard about The Great North Snowdogs at the North Design Centre in Gateshead. It was a really exciting event where we got to meet people from Wild In Art, St Oswalds and some of the sponsors and other creatives. There was a buzz about The Great North Snowdog project and I could tell that it would be wonderful to play a small part in it.
Why did you decide/want to get involved?
I wanted to get involved because St Oswalds is an amazing organisation that carries out wonderful work throughout the North East, and being part of the raising money and awareness for their cause and activity was something that I really wanted to be part of.
I also love The Snowman and the Snow Dog animation, I enjoyed watching it with my kids and I could see how much fun this project was going to be with The Snowdog as the sculpture.
This project also took me out of my comfort zone to a certain degree as painting is not something that I do every day. Increasingly I work with digital media, but I was really keen to have the chance to use my art school experience to create something completely unique.
What was the process behind submitting your designs for your Dog and getting the green light?
The process was pretty simple really; I had to come up with a design in a two dimensional format and submit it as part of my application. I knew that I wanted to use the basis of my design from my Newcastle/Gateshead collection so I had a fair idea of how the artwork should look.
I had to wait a few weeks before finding out if I had been successful. I knew that there would be selection process where sponsors would get to see the designs and then choose their favourite.
How did you feel when you found out, you’d been selected not once, but TWICE!?
I was really thrilled to find out that my Newcastle/Gateshead design had been selected from my original application. When I was working on it I was asked to carry out a VIP Snowdog commission which was amazing. Having two Snow Dogs on the sculpture trail is really wonderful and it is such an honour to be selected to carry out a VIP commission.
What were the inspirations behind your Snowdog designs? (only say as much as you can!)
Newcastle/Gateshead landmarks were the inspiration for my first design. All I can say about the VIP commission is that the design is based upon a well-loved British children’s author and illustrator.
As you can imagine we all want to keep the sculpture trail a surprise for people so I wouldn’t want to reveal any spoilers.
Can you reveal any secrets regarding your Dogs, locations, names, sponsors?
The name of the Newcastle/Gateshead design is Tyne Tail Jack you can follow him on twitter @TyneTailJack . The lovely Sponsors are called The North Group and they have been operating in the North East for 150 years. The location of the dog will be on the Newcastle side of the Quayside.
As far as my VIP commission is concerned I am not able to reveal much at all about this lovely pup. But as soon as I do I will let you know what I can.
How does it feel as a Gateshead based Artist, to be featured within such a high profile North East campaign?
I am so proud to be part of this project. Although I am originally from London, I have lived in the North East for 18 years and I love it up here.
I am so passionate about Gateshead and the amazing creative community that we have here. To be part of such a high profile campaign is wonderful and I am really excited to see how the local community and visitors to the region respond to the amazing work that artists from the local area and all over the country have created.
Each dog has its own very unique character and there are so many brilliant designs that have also been created by local schools and community groups as well.
Have you seen any other Snowdogs yet?
Yes I have seen some fabulous Snowdogs. I have been working in the studio in Newcastle that is provided for artists to work on the dogs and I am so excited that I have been lucky enough to meet some amazingly talented artists in the process.
The studio is also the place where all completed dogs come to before the sculpture trail. So all of the school and community art dogs and the sculpture trail dogs end up there, so I am looking forward to seeing many more over the coming weeks.
Why are projects like this so important to the North East cultural agenda?
Events like this raise awareness of what is going on up here creatively and raise awareness of the great work St Oswalds does for people in the region.
It will also bring people from outside of the region to the area which will help introduce new audiences to the North East and help stimulate the local economy. With my design I have tried to help foster links between industry, the corporate world and the arts. I think the project model that Wild In Art have created really demonstrates how seemingly disparate bodies can work together to achieve great things creatively.
Do you intend to complete the wider Great North Snowdogs Public Art Trail and (of course!) the Gateshead Trail?
I can’t wait to attend the sculpture trail with my friends and family. It is going to be amazing to see how many pictures of the Snowdogs we can collect before they go to auction at the end of the year. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to document the event and see how many we can take pictures of. I am also excited to see where they all end up being located.
After Gateshead Sculpture 30 Festival, Playground at Baltic and now Snowdogs, there seems to have been a bit of a shift towards more accessible, interactive sculpture and outdoor Art! We really love this as it gets people outdoors, exploring alongside engaging with Art and Sculpture! What do you think about this?
Any kind of project or campaign that makes art more accessible to a wider audience is something that I love to be part of. With my creative practice as an artist, I attempt to bring art and science together which could be seen as two entirely unrelated subjects. But I have found that audiences are really interested and engaged in this sort of work especially if you make the work engaging and accessible.
The Great North Snow Dogs project is one of those special events that will get people exploring, engaging and sharing their experience through social media. I think I have also heard rumours of an app being created for the event so I am keen to see what that will be like. It’s going to be a wonderful and exciting event and I am so thrilled to be a small part of it.
How brilliant and thank you Corinne! So Culture Vultures – as of the 19th September, you have ten weeks, so find, discover and snap a selfie (or a snowfie, as we are calling them) with the Snowdogs across the region and of course Gateshead.
In the meantime; Tweet a “hello” to Corinne’s Snowdog @TyneTailJack, visit Snowdogs webpage to keep yourself up to date on all things Snowdog related including any app information. You can also catch them on @GreatNorthSnowdogs on Facebook and @great_snowdogs on Twitter.
We can’t waitttttt for Snowdogs!