The Lions of Windsor trail which runs from the 10 August to the 28 October 2019 will feature a pride of over 45 individually decorated, super-sized lion sculptures displayed across the Royal Borough to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria and raise funds for local charities. As a team of artists and a business based in the Royal Borough, we knew we had to be involved with this public art event as soon as we heard about it!
The lion sculptures are sponsored by a wide range of businesses and organisations and have been decorated in a variety of styles and designs by leading UK artists, designers and illustrators, including fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, Lacroix/Vuitton designer Craig Wheatley and descendants of the celebrated French impressionist Camille Pissarro, Lelia and Lyora Pissarro. And Aaron Stephens from Carters Steam Fair! A mini-pride of cute lion cubs has been decorated by schools across the region.
The lions will go on display around the Royal Borough and people are encouraged to find them by following the trail maps. At the end of the event they are then auctioned off for local charities.
All about Carter the Lion
The protype lion scultures were made from clay by sculptor Alan Dunn in his studio near Bath. This was then scaled up and a 3D wireframe work was created and sculpted clay was used to create a final fibreglass version which could be painted by the different artists. The finished lions are 1.2m tall and 1.5m long.
Lions were chosen for the trail because ‘the lion symbolises courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour, hence its popularity as a royal heraldic image.’
Seeing as the lion trail celebrates the birth of Queen Victoria we thought it would be very appropriate to paint it in the style of a Galloper horse (or carousel horse for our American friends!). Our Galloper ride dates from the 1890s, a time when funfairs were incredibly popular with people of all ages. In an era without TV or printed colour media, the fair was quite often the brightest thing to hit the town and people were amazed by the brightly coloured rides. On our Galloper ride you’ll see images of royalty and stars of the day along with highly decorated ‘galloping’ horses. We thought we would have a bit of fun and reimagine our lion as a ‘Galloper’ lion.
The image below shows the top of our Galloper ride. You can see the ornate decoration, gold leaf, cut glass and images of royalty hung form the ceiling inside.
Our Galloper horses are highly decorated and many are named after family members. You can see how the horses are ‘galloping’ with all of their legs spread out – an American carousel horse has its legs in a different position – it looks more like it is prancing.
Back at our yard in White Waltham, Aaron got to work decorating Carter the lion in our traditional fairground style. Aaron studied with Joby Carter on one of our traditional signwriting courses and then joined the Carters creative team as an apprentice and is now a full time member of the team. You can see an iPad has sneaked into our workshop but this was just used to remind Aaron of our designs on the ride as everything is currently on tour! The design was painted by hand.
We painted Carter in a traditional fairground style using real gold leaf – we believe it’s important to keep traditional skills alive in a digital age so no computers, apps, fancy software or other digital tools were used to transform this lion into its regal glory.
Aaron explained a bit about the gold leaf process:
The gold leaf is quite a complicated process – you paint a gold size (glue) where you want the gold to stick, and then it comes on sheets like a transfer. You wait for the size to be tacky and stick it on! After that you burnish it with cotton wool.
Although we can’t change the leg position of Carter the lion to make him a ‘galloping lion’ we thought we would add in a central pole, just like our Galloper horses.
A pride of lions go on display
Last week we saw 40 of the other lions displayed on the Headmaster’s Lawn at St Georges School Windsor Castle as part of the media launch of the Lions of Windsor & Maidenhead 2019 sculpture trail. We were busy back at the yard putting the final touches to ‘Carter’ so he wasn’t able to be there in the line up on the day. Our pole means that he doesn’t fit into a van as easily as the others and requires his own regal transport!
We enjoyed seeing how the other artists had decorated their lions and we are really looking forward to seeing Carter take up his final position near Windsor Castle. We think he’ll make it into quite a few selfies there!
We hope that visitors to the borough enjoy looking at Carter the lion and finding the other lions on the trail – it’s a great activity to do with the kids, especially knowing that the whole scheme will help raise lots of money for local charities.
See more fairground art in Berkshire and Surrey
While the lion trail takes place, people might also like to come and see more of our beautiful fairground art in person at Carters Steam fair when we visit Englefield Green on the 18 and 29 September or on the 5th and 6th October at Holyport Green in Maidenhead. We’re also hosting a Signwriting festival which celebrates the traditional art of signwriting and fancy lettering on the 21and 22 September at Pedestal Field in West Wycombe.