The lawn in front of Bath's Royal Crescent had a different group of visitors this morning - these new tourists have taken up roost to show off their impressive plumage and to make their very colourful entrance to Bath as part of a new sculpture trail across the city.
Forming part of an impressive and ambitious project over 80 sculpted owls have each been individually painted by some of the best artists in the South West, local school groups and other talented members of the community backed by local businesses and organisations which have sponsored each owl.
Around 30 owls and a collection of smaller owlets were on display at this mornings launch showcasing the detail, wild imagination and effort that has gone into each one, no two owls are alike - quite a feat considering the sheer size of the project.
The project drew inspiration from Bath's Roman heritage and the Goddess, Minerva who's gilded bronze head can be found in the Roman Baths and is identified as the goddess of wisdom, her owl being part of the symbolism now re-created and re-imagined in these beautifully crafted statues. As luck would have it, Minerva was available to take a break from her busy schedule as a Goddess to come along to today's launch with her pet barn owl.
I wandered through each sculpture captivated by each design and thought I had found my favourite before discovering another and thinking, no, this is the one and then I spot a brilliant detail on a different owl - Just too hard to choose! (Though I did finally settle on my favourite - see below - it's a stunning bird!)
Also, an exclusive app has been designed to accompany the search where upon finding an owl a sensor hidden deep within the sculpture will connect to your mobile device, giving you details about each bird as you approach them - I had hoped that their eyes would light up as your approached, though I was informed that the head of one of the owls actually rotates! I'm not sure where that will be located, we'll have to discover it for ourselves....
As if it wasn't enough to have the fun challenge of finding each owl, when you do there's also an opportunity to win a luxury break in Bath if you answer questions successfully from the app at each location.
Each interactive owl also gives the visitor an opportunity to donate via QR codes on each plinth and charities such as The Bath Young Carers Centre, UK Little Owl Project and the Royal United Hospital Cancer Centre will greatly benefit from each donation.
A day out in Bath has been made even greater by creating this fabulous trail and best of all, it's free and can occupy all ages as they spend time exploring the city, often discovering places that may have been missed before. Perfectly positioned in the summer holidays, children will love the challenge of finding the owls and ticking them off their lists.
The partnerships and community engagement has been fantastic in the months building up to the launch and come Monday, you can experience the owls for yourself that have only so far been glimpsed in photos. I was amazed by the eye-catching detail in the designs and I think you'll be equally impressed.
The Minerva Owls of Bath trail runs from the 25th June until the 10th September with a final gathering on the 6th and 7th October before being auctioned off for charity. I'd better start saving some pennies for that stunning blue bird!
As I started to write this I thought I would spend a bit of time researching owl puns on the internet - why not? I thought, it'll add some humour the blog. Believe me when I warn you - Don't do it! two hours later and I've just climbed out of a world of owl punnery that had me trapped forever! Fortunately, I have spared you all some terrible, terrible puns....
.....So, that's owl right, isnt it?
Are you looking for photographs for your project or thinking of running a social media campaign? Drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org