Tuesday, 11 November 2014

London's sculpture trails

Back in 2010, a parade of elephants came to London to raise awareness of the need for elephant conservation.  The children and Graham and I had such a fun summer going elephant spotting around town - ticking the elephants we found off the checklist, taking photos and deciding which ones were our favourites.

Cam, elephant, Livvy
A 10-year old Cam and a 7-year old Livvy with an elephant in Green Park

Livvy checks the map
Livvy crossing elephants off the map in 2010

I thought at the time, what a wonderful idea it was.  The project really captured the public's imagination; everyone in London seemed to be talking about it.  It got us all out as a family, exploring London and sharing with each other the places we knew best (Graham knows the Royal Parks extremely well from cycling through them on his way to work for years, but I rarely go there) and the elephants were just very lovely works of art in their own right - sometimes beautiful and sometimes amusing.

So I was delighted to find that there are two really good new sculpture trails in London this autumn.  

There is a trail of fifty Paddington Bears scattered around London to mark the release of the Paddington film and to raise money for the NSPCC.  The bears have all been designed by different people, and are mostly clustered in a few parts of London so that you could easily see a whole bunch in an hour or two (although I am perversely tempted to trek all the way out to Heathrow to see the Chief Scout Bear designed by Bear Grylls).  The Paddingtons will be in London until the end of the year, so you still have a couple of months to see them all.

The second trail is to mark the 2014 Year of the Bus (I know - who knew?).  This one I stumbled across completely by accident as I was walking in the Olympic Park last week.  I found a beautiful, floral bus sculpture, read the label on it, and knew immediately that I had to come back soon with my smallest nephew - bus-and-train-mad, four-year-old Leo - to see how many of the rest of them we could find.  

Year of the Bus sculptures

At the weekend, my brother-in-law and Leo joined Livvy and me for a stroll around the park to find the buses.  Well, Leo scooted at high speed while the rest of us strolled.  Instead of the paper map that Livvy checked off the elephants with in 2010, this time we had an app with a QR reader so that we could 'zap' the buses as we found them and mark them off the map on my phone.  We had so much fun, and Leo adored looking out for the different buses.  The trail around the Olympic Park is one of three bus trails - the others are in Westminster and around St Paul's and the Tate Modern. 

Year of the Bus sculptures
Livvy and Leo find a bus in front of the stadium
Year of the Bus sculptures
Self portrait in the mirrored bus
Year of the Bus sculptures
David and Leo with the number bus
Year of the Bus sculptures
Found another one!
Year of the Bus sculptures
This paralympic themed bus was mine and David's favourite

Year of the Bus sculptures
The floral bus from the other side - in front of the Broadcast Centre

I've got a whole, happy autumn of bus and bear hunting around London ahead of me trying to spot as many of them as I can - sometimes on my own or with a friend on a weekday day off, and sometimes with the family at the weekend.  That makes me very content.  


  1. Thank you for this. We have done some sculpture trails in other cities and really enjoyed them as we saw things we would have otherwise missed and we liked seeing all the different designs. We are hoping to visit London later his year so hopefully we may be able to see some of these.

  2. what fun, I like the idea of the bear hunt very much x


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