St Luke’s Hospice are working in partnership with Wild in Art and Andersen Press to bring this mass participation, family friendly art trail to life- featuring the much loved children’s character of Elmer, by Devon born author and artist David Mckee.
We speak to Emma Milford- Project Manager and self confessed ‘Elmer’s Mum’ to learn a little more about this exciting event and the hard work that is happening behind the scenes.
“St Luke’s are more than just ‘the building on the hill” explains Emma. The dedicated and compassionate members of staff saw 3531 patients last year and travelled over 66,800 miles, covering not only Plymouth but areas as far as East Cornwall, Dartmoor and the South Hams.
A well known charity within the Plymouth community- St Luke’s work to achieve dignity, comfort and choice for people affected by life-limiting illnesses, through delivering and influencing exceptional care.
Professionalism, respect, compassion and integrity are the foundations on which their services are based- and the charity strives to raise funds and awareness through their shops and numerous fundraising events across the city.
Looking for new ways to help raise the £4.2 million required each year, St Luke’s are working in partnership with Wild in Art and Andersen Press to bring well known character Elmer to life on the streets of Plymouth and the surrounding area.
Elmer’s Big Parade is set to be a huge event for our city; bringing businesses, artists and the community together whilst also offering opportunities to create long lasting memories and make a real difference to patients and families under the care of St Luke’s.
Emma, who has a wealth of experience when it comes to charity and fundraising initiatives- took on the role of project manager 10 months ago and is working hard to ensure everything runs smoothly for the well anticipated event.
“Wild in Art are huge when it comes to art trails! They approached Andersen Press- the publishers of Elmer, hoping to do something to celebrate the books 30th birthday in 2019. Wild in Art then pitched the idea to us here at St Luke’s and it came at the perfect time. We are always looking at new and exciting ways to raise funds and this is a great way to do so”.
“It is a really good commercial initiative, which is great not only for Plymouth and the businesses involved but to raise awareness of what we do at St Luke’s and enable us to build new relationships in the local community”.
Talking about the significance of the trail to Plymouth as a city, Emma explains that David Mckee was born and bred in Tavistock and attended Plymouth College of Art. “It’s amazing to be able to have Elmer’s 30th Birthday being brought back to his roots here in Plymouth. There are similar art trails happening in Ipswich and Newcastle and the publishers want to make a big splash with this, and turn the country patchwork! Elmer is one of the biggest selling children’s books of all time, all over the world. Japan even has their own adult clothing range. He is hugely popular due to being so accessible to everybody. He’s all about diversity, celebrating being different and everyone can relate to that in their own way”.
Consisting of 40 uniquely painted Elmer sculptures, the trail will feature artwork from both emerging and established local artists. Going live on July 8th 2019, the trails will be around for 10 weeks before the sculptures are auctioned off to raise crucial funds for St Luke’s Hospice.
Emma tells us that anyone can enter their designs to the trail, and this makes way for diverse and exciting interpretations. “We anticipate over 100 applications after the deadline at the end of this month. From an art perspective, Plymouth is a real hub for creativity and I don’t think we celebrate it enough. This event will really put some of our local artists on the map which is a fantastic opportunity for them”.
“We’ve already had one elephant designed by Brian Pollard for our launch event back in March, and I love that both well established and budding local artists can take part in this. You can have an elephant designed by someone as well known as Brian- and then on the complete opposite end of the spectrum you could have someone who has never shown anyone their art and wants to showcase their talent”.
Each Elmer sculpture will be sponsored by a local business- offering a great marketing opportunity to promote their brand and a way to engage with staff, customers and the wider community. Printed maps and an interactive app will help the public keep track of where they have found an elephant around the city- offering a unique code that they can input for a reward from the chosen sponsor.“Once you’ve found all 40 elephants you can claim a special prize so it makes for a really fun event for all ages”.
Emma explains that alongside the Big Parade, there will be a bespoke trail of smaller Elmer sculptures that will be designed by local schools and community groups as part of the Education Programme.
As a hospice we believe talking about death and dying is extremely important. The education programme will engage with local schools and community groups to help them explore the subject of death and dying but in a creative and safe way.“25 schools from around the city will design an Elmer sculpture of their own, and when they take part, they will receive a resource pack inspired by the stories of Elmer, covering subjects such as loss, making memories and diversity. The programme will be tied to the curriculum, whilst also linking with the nationally recognised Arts Award”.
It’s really great to have the opportunity for children and adults to talk and engage in some really sensitive subjects, but in a fun and creative way. An elephant never forgets and that’s a key message for us too. We want to help people create lasting memories and at St Luke’s we are very proud that we can do this for many patients and their families.
Emma explains that at the end of the 10 week trail, all of the elephants will come together in one location for a ‘Farewell Weekend’ in October, offering the public a chance to see all the sculptures in one place and tick off any that they weren’t able to find during the trail. After this, the large Elmer sculptures will be auctioned off, with the ultimate goal to raise significant funds for St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth.
What is guaranteed to be an exciting and innovative event for Plymouth, Elmer’s Big Parade will not only positively contribute to the economic, cultural and social life of the city- but also enable St Luke’s to continue to provide their outstanding compassionate care.