Dozens of life-size plastic painted cows will be making an appearance in Derry next summer as one of the world’s most popular public art events arrives in town.
‘CowParade’ will bring fibre-glass reinforced cows to the streets of Derry where, decorated by local artists, they will be placed on display for public viewing. A charity auction at the end of the event will raise money for chosen charity partners.
CowParade events have been staged in more than 50 cities worldwide since 1999 including Chicago, New York City, London, Tokyo, Brussels and Dublin.
This week, Derry City Council agreed to co-fund next year’s event, setting aside a maximum of 50% of the overall request of £17,500 spread over two financial years, subject to securing additional monies from other funders.
A Council spokesperson says CowParade will “present us with an excellent opportunity to boost visitor numbers as part of the lead-in to the UK City of Culture.”
Council also believes the event can offer a “range of opportunities to engage with local communities and maximise tourism opportunities and linkages.”
She added: “There is also huge potential to place the cows at key attractions within the city to develop a themed and specialist trail with a number of sites already being considered as potential locations.”
CowParade, insists Council, is more than an arts festival.
“It’s a tourist initiative, an attraction, a tried and tested footfall and revenue driver to the host region,” said the spokesperson. “For example, Edinburgh CowParade 2006 resulted in 28% increase in visitor spend to the city as well as an average increase of 24% in visitors to the attractions hosting cows.
“In Chester, it generated an additional £16m spend to the city with an estimated 40% of visitors surveyed coming to Chester specifically to see the public art exhibition. We are confident that it will have a positive impact on Derry, too.”
It’s believed the “open call to artists” will take place later this year with the blank cows arriving for painting in March of next year.
The CowParade is to be officially launched at next year’s Balmoral Show with the cows being placed in locations across Derry for a three month period - June, July and August.
The finale is set to take place in the city as part of the Irish Walled Towns Weekend (mid-August) with the charity auction taking place in September 2012.
The cows often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes.
There are a few variations of shape, but the three most common shapes of cow were created by Pascal Knapp, a Swiss-born sculptor who was commissioned to create the cows specifically for the CowParade series of events.
CowParade opens its events to all artists in the host city and region. Painters, sculptures, craftsmen, architects, and other creative and artistic individuals are welcome to submit a design for selection.
While the cow sculptures remain the same, each city’s artists are “challenged by the creations from past events, inspired by the cultural influences and history of their city, and moved by their own interpretation of the cow as an object of art.”
A number of celebrities are the proud owners of cows, among them Elton John, Oprah Winfrey, Ringo Starr and Princess Firyal of Jordan.