Stagecoach snowdog offers pawfect opportunity to learn about art

13 Sep 2016

The local bus operator has partnered with Helen Stephens, the Northumberland-based artist behind the hugely successful series of children’s books, ‘How to Hide a Lion’, to create the Stagecoach Snowdog ‘Hiding Lions’, which will be located at the iconic Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Great North Snowdog is a Wild in Art event in support of St Oswald’s Hospice. Inspired by the animated short film, The Snowman™ and The Snowdog, the large-scale public art event will feature over 60 large Snowdogs and 105 smaller dog characters across the Tyne and Wear, and aims to capture the hearts and minds of the region and beyond in the run up to Christmas 2016.

This is the first time Helen has been involved in the artistic project and was very excited to be asked to take part in Great North Snowdogs, as she explains.

“I was delighted to be invited to design a Snowdog and thought it would be fun to use the theme of my new picture book, 'How to Hide a Lion at School', and hide lions all over the Snowdog for people to find. But I had no idea he would be quite so big! When I heard Stagecoach were sponsoring my Snowdog my first thought was that it was a great partnership, as my new book also features a school bus.”

Helen has spent around 40 hours in a studio painting Hiding Lions with characters and scenes from the much loved and popular picture book. Also helping to get him ready for display was Helen’s eight-year-old daughter, Frieda - who is Iris in the book - and fellow illustrator, Katie Chappell, who painted the backgrounds.

Helen continued: “Frieda was very excited by the whole thing, she brought her friends to see it and they enjoyed spotting the hiding lions. I've never worked on a public art trail before. It has been a huge job but I’m so glad I did it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing children and their parents playing the game, searching for the ten hiding lions. I have also heard about Wallace the Lion near Mowbray Park and I am keen to meet him! It has been really enjoyable, doing something different and on such a large scale.” 

With the third book in the series recently published, Helen is currently touring bookshops and schools across the UK to celebrate but hopes to make a trip to see the Snowdog in his new home too. 'How to Hide a Lion' will be on stage at the Polka Theatre in London from October 2016 until February 2017.

Helen Martin, Marketing Manager, Stagecoach North East, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring our very own Snowdog and are looking forward to being a part of the exciting Great North Snowdogs initiative. 

“We loved the idea of Helen Stephens’ designing a Snowdog, as her illustrations from her children’s books are so colourful and creative. They also feature a bus and so seemed a perfect match! We will also be giving passengers the opportunity to spot a number of ‘lions’ on our buses. This will play an important part in helping to engage with the local community and drive visitors to explore the Snowdog trails across the Tyne and Wear region.

 “We are working with other public transport providers to create a travel map for visitors to ensure easy access to the Great North Snowdogs trail. We are also partnering with a number of north east organisations and businesses to encourage visitors and our employees alike to discover all 60 snowdogs, so we hope as many people as possible come to see Hiding Lions and his friends and have a ‘pawfect’ time!

Helen added: “We are proud to support such an initiative, which engages the whole family, encourages people in the north east to explore their local community and attracts new visitors to the region - and crucially - helps to raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice.”