Nottingham was home to the Hoodwinked art trail this summer. 33 six-foot fibreglass robins transformed the city into a mass game of hide and seek. Using an app to unlock special offers and a map to find their way, thousands of residents and visitors embarked on the trail. The sculptures, which had been sponsored by Nottingham businesses, were each painted with a unique look by local and regional artists.
We were privileged to sponsor our very own Robin, named Royal Robin Redbreast and nicknamed “KouKou” by customer nomination. Koukou was a majestic mosaic robin created by Edwalton’s Julie Vernon.
We decided it was time for a selfie competition when we heard that KouKou was the people’s favourite. It was a simple challenge: take a selfie with KouKou, share it with us, and be in with a chance of winning two executive tickets to Blue Planet II Live. The winners were frontrunners from the get-go. Joining them in the selfie were cuddly pals Nemo and Squirt, the beloved clownfish and sea turtles of Finding Nemo. Well played guys, well played.
Attention turned to the impending auction of the statues as the trail drew to a close. Businesses and residents of Nottinghamshire (and beyond) worked out their budgets, selected their favourites, and geared up for a tense night under the hammer. As sponsors, we were invited to attend the event which was held at St. Mary’s Church in the Lace Market. And there was someone special we wanted to bring home with us…
The night was hosted by TV auctioneer Charles Hanson from BBC’s Bargain Hunt, who brought a wave of excitement and energy to the stage. His jokes and general tomfoolery made for a memorable, entertaining evening, unlike any auction you’ve seen before. Bidding wars between online bidders and residents saw Hanson leaping between pleas with the camera and heartfelt speeches to the crowd, with the winning bid averaging out at nearly 4000 pounds.
In honesty, we’d expected more businesses to be bidding on the robins, but it turned to be everyday local folk who were most smitten. When the couple next to us successfully won their chosen robin, we asked what they would be doing with it. Beaming, they told us that the robin would be given a forever home on their kitchen roof.
After a nervous wait our very own Robin Red Breast was under the hammer. KouKou had been given prime spot near the auction block and was undoubtedly the star of the show. The room buzzed and within ten seconds a bidding war had kicked off. Others chipped in and dropped away again, and before we knew it the bids had shot up past our highest price. It was both a sad and exciting moment. We shared a disappointed look and got back to it. KouKou wasn’t staying in the Castle Rock family but the buzz surrounding him was quite spectacular. In the end, he went for a wild £5800 – the biggest sale of the night by 400 pounds. What an immense achievement, especially to the artist Julie, who cut out KouKou’s thousands of mosaic pieces by hand. Phew.
By the end of the night, the 34 robins had raised £133,000 for the Nottinghamshire Hospice, which provides care and support for adults with life-limiting or terminal illnesses, as well as their families and carers. The independent local charity relies on a sum of £2.7 million a year to keep providing their services, which are of no cost to patients or their families.
So, as Autumn draws in, Hoodwinked is officially over. Thank you to everyone who took part, who took a selfie with KouKou, or just marvelled at his beauty without knowing why a giant mosaic robin was plonked on the pavement. Thank you to the teams behind Hoodwinked – you put on an incredible event that brought families, residents and visitors together. To Julie, for your glorious colourful talent, and to our winning bidder. We don’t know who you are, but we couldn’t be happier with how this lovely tale has ended.
For now, KouKou, it’s goodbye. You did us real proud.