Update: August 2018 - NEW VIDEO! - Discover all the owls in this music video below:
After a very successful launch, all of the completed Minerva's Owls of Bath have landed on the streets of the city, ready to be discovered and ticked off your list (and phone app) in perfect timing too for the summer holidays and busy tourism season.
I was fortunate to have a preview of around 30 birds when they were displayed on the lawn of the Royal Crescent in June - At the time I had already discovered my favourite owl and expected I would probably try to photograph a handful more in their perch locations around the city. But, intrigue and temptation got the better of me, What if there was a new favourite out there? What other colourful birds would I be missing? So, I downloaded the app, laced up my comfortable shoes and set off to try to spot and photograph as many as I could.
I was bitten by the bug and feeling like a 10 year old again relished the thrill of discovering each new owl - so much so that I captured all of the 82 owls over a few days - travelling both within Bath and beyond.....Let's go catch them all!
First owl spotted - Bird of Play, by Artist: Complete Control - The charm in this owl is the fantastic teleidoscope eye which creates an amazing kaleidoscope pattern when looked through. The team at Complete Control are encouraging visitors to peer into the eye piece, capture the scene with a camera or phone and upload the photos to their Instagram account: @birdofplaybath
Standing proud at the wonderful wild garden on Walcot Street is Minerva, Goddess of the Arts and Magic (to name, but a few!) designed by artist Emma Rose. The colourful plumage dazzles inthe sunlight whilst her huge enchanting eyes gaze at passers by.
Ocatvius by Joanna Dewful is a perfect design for the Roman heritage of Bath - intricate tessera form a stunning mosaic pattern across it's entire body, whilst, my original favourite
Night Owl by Natasha Rampley has a similar concept, but this time, shards of mirrored glass form part of the facial plumage, with a stunning vibrant blue body and timepiece for an eye completes this beautifully crafted bird.
Trigiformes by artist Sue Gutherie
Hoops by Elysia Paterson
Cornucopi-owl by Richard Twose
I initially found Hoops in a state of undress as it was still being created in Milsom Place, but now, a week later returned to the new home, outside the Sponsors Bath Rugby shop on Pulteney Bridge. It's a fantastic design, from the skull cap to the rugby ball tucked under the wing
Madame Chouette by Lara Cron
James the Jolly Owl by Charlotte Moore
R'Owl by Maria Van Tintelen
Having a Hoot at Work by Nat Al-Tahhan
Milsom Street and Milsom Place had an abundance of owls to discover - with many hidden inside shops to lure you in, searching the shop floor for each feathered treasure. With this part of Bath complete and another batch of birds collected, it was time to move onto George Street
Having a Hoot at Work features brilliant doodles and also features a 'Where's Wally' element to the design.
Athene noctua is latin for Little Owl and this beaitifully realistic design by ATM Street Art (whose other work highlights threats to endangered species) simply put, is stunning. Those eyes, the giant orbs of yellow are incredibly realistic and have the ability to stop you in your tracks. Discover the little owl for yourself outside the Assembly Rooms on Bennett Street.
Cygnus by Oldfield School
Swirly Whirly by Lisa Todd
Oscar by First Steps Children's Centre Twerton
Owls are nocturnal creatures and so it's apt that the next discovery is a celebration of another night activity, astronomy. Herschowl by artist Lois Cordelia praises the achievements of the Herschel family and their contribution to this study of night sky - even discovering the planet Uranus from the back garden of the family home, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
Brian by Nyamachomastapeace
Amalfi by Elysia Paterson
EnvironmentOWL by Weston All Saints Primary School
Isambird Kingdom Brunowl by Rita Lazaro - The famous engineer owl has taken up residence at Paddington Station in London for the time being before returning to Bath via Swindon later in the Summer - I was lucky to grab a photo before he flew on to the capital city.
Emily by Vera Carbin is perfectly placed in a central location of the beautiful Royal Crescent Hotel and dons a very nice hat, in celebration of Norland College's founder, home to the Norland Nannies. Emily wears the brown nannies uniform and reflects the caring nature of their work in cute images of owlets - echoing the caring nature of the organisation.
Kintsugi by Genesis Trust Bath
Libby by Julia Trickey
Street Wise Owl by Laura Fearn
Beaky by Oriana Viall and Sammie Palmer resides outside a much appreciated coffee stop, Lulu Caffe.
Onward through the city and as my legs start to wobble I've taken refuge in the shade near Thermae Bath Spa where the next discovery has found roost. Spokes by Perry Harris
You'll need to keep your eyes pointed up to find the next bird, H'Owl Before It's Too Late who's found a perch on the Little Theatre's roof.
The Wise Renewab-Owl has an inspired plumage of solar panels whilst Sterling, like a magpie has been attracted to all that glistens in the dazzling Silver Shop of Bath
Take yourself off the streets and step into decadence at the Roman Baths to find the next pair of owls nesting above the King's Bath in the King's Lounge
Bubo by Jane Skuse is a fantastically inspired legend from the movie, Clash of the Titans
FestivOwl by Martin Brown is covered in an array of comic style illustrations from the Horrible Histories books
Speculo has been a labour of love - I watched with intrigue as each stage of the owls creation by the Bath Aqua Glass team was teased over social media. The best part for me, is the beautiful individually crafted feathers that adorn the body in a stunning turquoise hue.
As I continued pacing the streets I couldn't help but notice other owls popping up from behind the shop windows - was it a sign I was getting closer to the next set of birds?
Gemini - Twinned Too Yoo by Stephanie Sandall
Bob by Claire Harmer
Artis by Emma Taylor Art
The golden glow of the next owl Artis draws me closer to the Abbey Hotel where they have announced a new owl inspired cocktail the 'Artis' featuring a base of Tawney Port and decorated with a zesty orange feather.
Pop down to the hotel on a Friday afternoon between 3pm and 4pm for free cocktail tasters of this delicious new tipple:
J.K. Owling by Jo McCarron features book spines as feathers, a colourful collection of local books where you can try to spot your favourites - extending on the theme that owls are wise birds.
Keeping a watchful eye over Sally Lunn's buns is Sea Owl - created to reflect upon the incredible behaviour of the Short-Eared Owl, who, every winter departs the Arctic on a journey of 100 miles to Britain in order to hunt. The artist Annabel Menhenott aims to raise awareness of these remarkable birds and to highlight the importance of preserving coastal environments.
It's hot here in the city - a unseasonably sunny summer so far and it's good to spend some time with The Y's and Where 4's owl under the mighty plane tree in Abbey Green. This owl actually has a different name and the challenge is to try to decipher the assorted letters (Y's) and numbers (4's) on its' plumage - to win a prize! The creator, Chris Dawson and sponsors MHA Morgans will release clues via their twitter account @theYswhere4s
It's cool here in the shade, surrounded by quirky shops and the faint smell of fudge drifting from the local sweet shop, where George resides - perched high above San Francisco Fudge Factory near the Abbey.
It's time to push on after a brief rest to the next owl, located at the entrance to the shopping hub of the city, Southgate - where you can find, standing proud amongst the shoppers, Metro Owl
Three more owls can be spotted in this part of Bath - each with a dazzling coat of paint and patterns:
Peafowl by Julia Trickey is a interesting twist on the owl theme - by taking the plumage of other birds and recreating this design under the title, Peafowl (which is the collective term for peacocks and peahens) Genius!
Ono by Bath Young Carers is a joyous owl! Lovely vibrant, splashy artwork reflects the imagination and spirit of young carers who are supported in taking time from their role to enjoy fun activities, supported by the B&NES Young Carers Project
The Owl & The Pussycat by Jane Veveris Callan features images from the brilliant Edward Lear poem of the same name - with scenes beautifully painted over a golden body - including Wisteria flowers which have been a central theme to this year's summer display at Southgate.
A popular bird and a firm favourite with many owl spotters is Cosmos by Tone Hitchcock. I love how there's more to see with this owl, with the inspired addition of a space helmet and jet pack this owl reflects the aim of the sponsors Rocketmakers who launch start up companies to stardom!
Emma by Joe Tymkow & Keynsham ArtSpace draws you close and hypnotisies you with huge swirling eyes - two large ammonite fossils reflect the 50th anniversary of the Keynsham flood in 1968.
Twit to Leave EU is a campaign bird, hooting its message for a Peoples Vote on remaining in the European Union, sponsored by Bath for Europe and created by artist Zib Baines.
I've taken a detour out of the bustling city to the calmness of the river Avon which has now started to emerge from it's slumber and looks fantastic through the wildflowers and public space created as part of the Bath Quays development. DigitOwl can be found here to share with you a glimpse of the future. Scan the QR code and you'll get a glimpse of the workspaces that will be attracting digital industries to the city.
The longest walking section of the Minerval Owl Trail awaits, I believe I may have planned this slightly wrong - but no bother, I'm over halfway through and next it's a trip to the vibrant mini-hub of Widcombe where the next owl awaits.
Vincent Van Owl - is a gorgeous reinterpretation of Vincent Van Goghs art style but with scenes of the local area featuring across it's plumage - The famous piece 'Starry Night' incorporates sponsors The Paragon School's current study curriculum, themes of light and dark but also the natural environment surrounding the school, where owls are regularly heard in their local woodland.
With this part of Bath ticked off, it was time to slowly make my way back to the central areas but first there's two more birds to track down:
Whoolio can be a tricky bird to find, but nesting just outside the new temporary reception to Bath Sports Centre you can find this owl, designed by artists Kat Button and Barbara Rae. The fabulous artwork reflects the skills of young people with special needs and explores the technique of 3D mark-making.
How apt the next owl is! It's Summer and she (I presume she's female judging by the bikini!) can be found at the magnificent entrance to the County Hotel. She's also got some company, but I will let you discover that surprise for yourself!
After all this walking it's time to recharge and kick off those shoes for a while and to relax on the beach. The County Hotel have created a tropical oasis in the city where cocktails, chilled vibes and great food are in plentiful supply. I had the opportunity to tip my toes into the sand recently and you can join me on the beach here on another blog post.
In the grounds of The Holburne Museum you'll find Seemore an interactive owl who's seemingly subtle plumage actual reveals a constellation of stars when you look a little closer. But that's not all, peer through his telescopic eyes to try and spot hidden mice reflecting the theme that owls are nocturnal and mice being a particularly tasty and staple part of their diet!
Owlbert Einstein by Midford Road Nursery & Oldfield Road Nursery
Blossom by Kingswood Prep School
Tyrell by Epok
Inspired by a similar colour palette, Owlbert Einstein and Tyrell feature gorgeous hues of purple and feature fine black ink line designs across the entire body.
Another one of Minerva's owls stands out a mile near the Guildhall Market - her bright, pink, vibrant feathers and engaging green eyes can't be ignored as you stroll the streets. Minerva's Night Owl by Rebecca Collett celebrates 100 years of womens' right to vote in the UK and reflects empowerment and a strong female spirit in all women. Visitors are encouraged to touch her heart and make a wish
Close to the bright pink Minerva Night Owl is the regal bird, Articus the Wise - a contrast to pink with a plumage of incredible blue (I'm starting to think blue is the best colour on these owls) Complete with a pocket watch tucked neatly under it's wing Tamzin Moloney has created an owl with the strong message to value our time as, 'time is a treasure that the wise do not waste' Good sentiment indeed.
Heading back to the centre of Bath and I had to stop to admire the incredible flowers that adorn the railings on Upper Borough Walls - They're looking stunning!
The Mindful Owl by artist Andy O'Rourke looks like a mighty fine bird, however quietly resting behind a glass window I wished there was a better way to view this owl. Hopefully it might be set free to bask in the sunshine to fully appreciate the fine design and effort it must have taken to create this sculpture.
On to The Podium/Waitrose and a bird who's not worried about being in full view of the public is Forrest Stump created by Jane Robinson is inspired by the twisting, gnarled patterns found in old tree stumps - a preferred habitat of the Little Owl
Warrell by Farmborough Primary School
Bartholomew, The Royal Owlet by Imogen Orr & Tom Woods
Twert Twoo by Twerton Infant School & Nursery
Three's the magic number!
Talk about taking care of three birds with one stone! Three owlets have taken up residence in the local library and stand proud amongst the books - which all seem to have an owl based theme - Great idea Bath Library!
It's break time - my feet are throbbing and time to take a load off and a little Pic Nic Coffee stop for a delicious top up - Personally, I can recommend the Dirty Chai Iced Latte - a cool blend of chai, milk, ice and a double espresso shoot to boot. Recharged and energised I'm ready for the final push....
We're heading out of Bath - the city centre is mostly collected and complete - it's time to explore the neighbouring villages and towns to seek out more of these elusive owls.
Cumberwell Owl by Jessica Palmer resides at the rear of Cumberwell Golf Course watching over the final hole, en route to Bradford on Avon where the next bird, Frida has flown into roost on the beautiful Town Bridge, inspired by legendary artist Frida Kahlo and created by artist Bunny.
I need to fly back into the outskirts of Bath to gather up a few more of the flock that have escaped me, there's time to take a route through the long, leafy driveway of the Combe Grove Hotel where Catherine Beale's creation, H'Owl at the moon awaits me, resting high over the landscaped grounds of the hotel and spa with views stretching beyond the Limpley Stoke and Midford valley.
Another in the bag, it's on to the close by BMI Clinic where I find Doctor Tawny by Vera Carbin relaxing after a working shift in the beautiful fountain garden adjacent to the hospital entrance.
The next owl is quite unexpected! It's flown far from the flock and has created a stunning and unique roost for itself in the grounds of Waterhouse Guest House and Wilsher Group Academy, close to Monkton Combe. It's off the beaten path, a little tricky to find but when you do you'll be amazed.
Let me introduce to you: Lumin15 by artist James Aveling. A unique owl that is illuminated in the style of a Moroccan lamp and housed in it's own roost box, complete with atmospheric woodland sounds and leafy decorations. By far my favourite, it's the experience of the unknown that captivated me - Firstly, not knowing that this property existed but then to discover that the owl has been presented in such an imaginative and interactive way was worthy of the effort it took to visit.
Back to the fringes of the city I discover the next owl waiting patiently for me at the entrance to the new Mulberry Park developments welcoming suite. Mowlberry Beak by Beccy Blake reflects the vibrant and diverse history of the area, with scenes from Combe Down's mining past, local historical figures, such as Harry Patch and Ralph Allen in addition to more recent themes from the city - Bath Gin anyone? Yum yum!
I think out of all the owls so far, I spent most time here enjoying all the brilliant illustrations perfectly placed across his body.
Patch by Combe Down Primary School
Tree of KnOwledge by Tom Fussell
The Packhorse Owl by Charlotte Moore
I'm re-visiting the western side of the city to gather up a few feathered stragglers and my next appointment is with the scarlet red delight Basanti who greets you at the entrance to the Mint Room an award winning Indian restaurant on the Lower Bristol Road - Bollywood in all it's glory is on display here, intricately painted by artist Elysia Paterson
Huge thanks goes to the team at Allen Ford for wheeling artist Cheba's Cosmic Allen out from his night roost for me to photograph - It was past closing and my epic mission around the city meant I almost was too late!
A skip over the road to the new Riverside Development lead me to discover Nocturn Owl by Annabel Menheneott who, perched outside Victoria Bridge, is deciding which of the grand Crest Nicholson apartments it would like to move into.
Almost forgot this sneaky owl who has nestled into the children's section of Waterstones on Milsom Street - Glimfeather is covered in traditional stylised artwork depicting classic scenes from children's books and was designed and painted by artist, Laura Fearn - a local artist from Weston and regular contributor the city sculpture trails over the years.
We're on the final stretch - I can see the finish line ahead, just a handful of owls to collect before I can finally find my own roosting spot.
Whitehall Garden Centre on the outskirts of Chippenham and close to the beautiful Lacock village has created a stunning floral display to welcome their new guest, Oswold created by artists Charlotte and Claire Self.
The inspired garden scene reflects the setting perfectly and the backdrop, a typical local/Cotswold style cottage completes the diorama. Whilst you're here - take time out to browse the enormous plant and bedding collection, it's vast! You may then need to re-fuel with a slice of cake and cup of tea at the restaurant close to the owl.
Golden Civetta was a beacon of light when I discovered her showing off her dazzling plumage outside Holburne Park. The artist, Josie Bahar was inspired by Venetian masks and the design incorporates gold, copper and silver leaf to reflect (quite literally) the vibrant aspects of the traditional masks.
Another detour and I'm en-route to discover a magnificent owl who resides at the Owlery in Newton Farm Shop in Newton St Loe, just outside Bath. It was the first time that 18 year old artist Naomi Johns had painted on a 3D structure, but the result speak for themselves - Beautifully realised and crafted birds of prey adorn the body of Athena, each with life-like, shining eyes and feathers.
It's a masterpiece and worthy of trip out of the city to marvel at the creation, spend time with the beautiful live birds of prey at West of England Falconry, whilst also visiting the Newton Farm Shop in this beautiful village.
So, this next creation has been brought out to help fill the gap where Chris Packham's owl should have taken up residence. Chris's bird is slightly delayed, he's a busy chap with his important television commitments - but as a bonus, there's anew bird in town!
Kid Cre-Owl can be found in the main hall of Victoria Art Gallery at the entrance to Pulteney Bridge. This trophy-like, golden statue is covered with an assortment of famous signatures - all gathered from the highly successful Bath Music Festival which took place in May earlier this year. Musical greats such as Paloma Faith, Midge Ure and even Robert Plant have contributed to this owl which, in October is sure to be a favourite in the auction with funds raised going to local charities.
The latest arrival to the parliament of owls is Bristol graffiti artist Inkie's creation Inkie Hoots who has amazed the visitors at the entrance to the Pump Rooms in central Bath - The colourful body reflects the bright summer we've currently experienced whilst the Mayan tribal inspired body paint echoes the black iron work of the surrounding area - a perfect blend of golden hues and black ink.
This is it - I've reached this final owl on this epic trail across the region. Herbie was completely unaware at the beginning of the challenge I set myself in trying to bag all of Minerva's Owls. But now, here Herbie sits beneath the canopy of a mighty plane tree surrounded by the bustle of shoppers at Clarks Village in Street. Which, I've learned is celebrating it's 25th Birthday - Happy Anniversary Clarks Village!
It's near the end of the day, there's 10 minutes until closing, so I decided to sit for a while to think about the incredible journey.
Returning home I had this nagging feeling, something wasn't quite right - I'm sure there's two pairs of eyes staring at me that I've somehow missed!
Then it dawned on me! I had swapped memory cards on my camera and two of my feathered friends were left hidden from view and I had forgotten all about their part in the great owl hunt.
Not to worry....they've now returned in all their glory:
Taking shelter from the hot sun The Wowlet is cooling it's feathers at the entrance to Freshford Village Hall. Inspired by Freshford Pre-School's mascot 'The Wow Cow' the owl is decorated with lovely messy hand prints. The team work of the children has shone through and also their love of creativity and nature, having a great outdoor learning resource is fully evident in this fun sculpture.
The final owl on this trail is off the beaten track and resides through a glorious leafy lane on approach to the Prior Park landscape garden. You'll be best prepared for a little walk, no cars can make it this far - but that's just fine as the walk is worth the effort and also takes you to a starting point of the Bath Skyline trail.
Perched high on a.... well, a perch is Ralph. The National Trust and young artists from Widcombe Junior School have created another fun, vibrant work of art showing colourful scenes from Prior Park's environment - There's wildlife in abundance beautifully painted on the sculpture, that may require a zoom lens or binoculars to fully appreciate - He's perched quite high up! Ralph has a commanding view over visitors from his vantage point in the garden of Fishponds Cottage, a charming grade II listed delight.
The Owl Trail takes you through some incredible areas of Bath and beyond, through beautiful architecture and features, into shops and public spaces - some owls mingle together, close in their roosts in the city whilst others take you far beyond the edge of the city and could take some amount of commitment to discover.
The individual owl designs, varied and enchanting with some true touches of inspiration will delight both local visitors and tourists alike - each with an engaging back-story, cause or message, too vast to include on this lengthy blog post. You'll have to put on your own comfy shoes, grab a map (or app) and discover all the owls for yourself on the Minerva Owls of Bath Trail 2018.
Now, come on Chris Packham - show us your owl !
The Minerva's Owls of Bath Trail runs until the week of 10th September before all owls gather together for one last display on the 6/7th October at a final farewell festival