About The Big Hoot

The Big Hoot is a mass participation public art event comprising of 89 individually designed large fibreglass owl sculptures forming a trail across Birmingham for 10 weeks from 20 July until the end of September.

Corporate sponsors, Birmingham stakeholders, artists and community groups have come together to support The Big Hoot, transforming the streets, parks and public spaces into a fun, free art gallery.

The Big Hoot is produced by Wild in Art in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

After the event, the owls will be auctioned to support Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

With an accompanying education programme called The Little Hoot, 114 schools have designed and created 122 sculptures, which are displayed in Parliaments in 18 sites across Birmingham.


Is the event free?

It is completely free to follow The Big Hoot and The Little Hoot trail. Trail maps can be downloaded online or they can be picked up from one of our designated distribution centres – The Big Hoot ‘Owltlet’ Shop in the Great Western Arcade, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Fundraising Hub, Visitor Centre in The Library of Birmingham, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and New Street Travel Information Centre. They can also be picked up from the Bullring, Custard Factory, The National SEA LIFE Centre Birmingham, The Mailbox, Twycross Zoo, Cadbury World, The Gracechurch Centre, Soho House, Best Western Moor Hall Hotel and Spa, Aston Hall, Handsworth Park Cafe, train stations across the city – and various other venues across Birmingham including shops, restaurants, leisure centres, community centres, theatres and galleries.

Where will the owls be located and how easy will it be to see them all?

The Trail Map gives information about each of the locations for both The Big Hoot and The Little Hoot. The aim is for the trail to take people on a journey of discovery and to showcase many areas of the city. Each of the locations are designed to be fully accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week but local restrictions may apply. Wild in Art and The Big Hoot cannot be held liable for any owls that are unavailable for viewing.

Where is Poddy?

Poddy (no.81 on the trail) has flown from Washwood Heath Health and Wellbeing Centre and is now perched outside Ward End Library. His new address is Ward End Library, Washwood Heath Road, Birmingham, B8 2HF.

When can I see Oliver?

Oliver is perched at Nechells POD on Oliver Street. You can get to him through the car park gate which is open Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 5.30pm and Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Where are the owls Alf the Penguin Owl and Saltley Stories?

Alf the Penguin Owl, lovingly known as ‘Alf’, will be retiring from The Big Hoot trail a little earlier than planned. We think you’ll all agree that Alf (no. 58 on trail) has earned a break, so we’re sending him off for a spa break before the Farewell Weekend.

Saltley Stories (no. 77 on the trail) has been admitted to The Big Hoot Hospit-Owl as he also requires a bit of extra TLC before the Farewell Weekend.

Please rest assured that Alf and Saltley will appear at the Farewell Weekend on 10-11 October as good as new and well in time for them to be sold at auction on Thursday 15 October.

Can I buy an owl?

Yes – at the charity auction on Thursday 15 October.

The medium sized owls will only be available for schools and education purposes as part of the The Big Hoot Schools Programme – they will be returned to each of the schools as a permanent memento following the summer’s event.

Where can I buy The Big Hoot merchandise?

The Big Hoot ‘Owltlet’ Shop will be open for the duration of the trail being live. It is located in Great Western Arcade, Birmingham. You can also buy merchandise in the fundraising hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Why isn’t The Big Hoot app working on my device?

An update for the Android app has fixed the registration issue, so you should now be able to download the new version from Google Play.

iPhone users should check that the app has access to the phone’s camera. To turn this on, go to Settings – scroll down and click in to The Big Hoot app –  make sure that the camera switch is on.

Please see this useful app user guide for further assistance.

Why aren’t all the owls I’ve scanned showing as found?

This is probably because the app hasn’t had a chance to synchronise with our central server. To avoid this, please ensure that before logging out of the app you are connected to WiFi. This will allow the app to update our server records fully.

Please note that you can only be logged into the app on one device at any one time. So if you’re switching between your phone and your tablet, please make sure you have logged out of the app on one device before switching to the other. To do this, click Info and then the Logout button in the top right corner.

What QR code on the owl sculpture should I scan?

There can be a number of QR codes on each owl sculpture. To track your progress on the trail and unlock special offers via the app you’ll need to scan the QR code located in the bottom right corner of the plaque containing the specific information about the owl.

What will happen to the owls on completion of the project?

At the heart of each Wild in Art event is the opportunity for chosen charities to heighten their profiles and raise funds through the event and the auction.

After communities and tourists have enjoyed participating in The Big Hoot – and everybody’s creativity, dedication and support has paid off – the auction will make a fitting finale and a farewell flutter for the owls (the owlets will return to the schools and community groups that created them).

It is an exciting, major event in its own right and will provide a fundraising platform for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

How will the auction work?

The auction will take place on Thursday 15th October. Following The Big Hoot, the owl sculptures will be refurbished by artists bringing each of the sculptures back to excellent condition.   

Can anyone bid for them?

Yes – the bidding process and all details about the auction will be available here shortly.

How much money do you expect to make?

Both Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Wild in Art are hoping that the event will raise in excess of £500,000 to support the invaluable work of the hospital.

Will all profits from the project go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital?

The net proceeds from the auction will go to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Why did you choose an owl to represent Birmingham?

After consultation into an appropriate sculpture that resonates with all communities, it was agreed to develop an owl for this event – inspired by the Eagle Owl – not least because Birmingham is one of the few places in the UK to have recorded sightings of this very rare bird. We felt that the owl also offered so much more – relevant themes such as wisdom, learning, industry, the environment, is child-friendly, and indeed, offers a broad canvas to explore humour, puns and social media. Furthermore, 2015 is the 750th anniversary of Parliament in the UK and the collective noun for owls is a ‘parliament’!

Who has designed the owls?

Through an Open Call Out to Artists, The Big Hoot invited local, regional and national artists, professional and amateur, famous and undiscovered, to submit designs. Designs were welcome in any art form – traditional to new media, fine art to illustrations, graffiti and mosaic, embroidery to metalwork. Whatever the art form, we were keen to add drama, fun and a creative flourish to The Big Hoot sculpture trail.

The portfolio of designs were presented to the sponsors in mid-February at a Sponsorship Preview reception. At this event, sponsors identified the artwork they would like to sponsor and the artist was commissioned.

In addition, artists worked with 12 community groups on projects with different themes ranging from environment to well-being, through to local history and culture, to create a truly local celebration of The Big Hoot.

What happens if an owl is vandalised?

The locations of the owls are purposefully chosen to avoid vandalism. In most of our events, this is a rare occurrence. Decisions about vandalism are made on a case-by-case basis. Principally, all efforts will be made to restore the owl sculpture. It remains Wild in Art’s discretion regarding the nature of the vandalism. If there is repetition of the vandalism once the owl has been restored, a different location will be found for the owl.

If you need to report a vandalised or damaged owl, please call: 0121 303 4149.

Who is responsible for The Big Hoot?

Wild in Art is the producer of the event working in close partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham City Council and stakeholders to ensure that the project adds value to existing cultural campaigns and leaves a lasting legacy for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

How did the project happen?

Wild in Art very much wanted to work in Birmingham as the second largest UK city to create a city-wide event and had early discussions with key stakeholders including Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and founding sponsor, LDC, who responded positively to the idea of creating an event for 2015.

Who are the project’s major sponsors?

The sponsorship drive has been enormously successful and has been supported by all sectors of the business community. A full list of sponsors can be found here.

Presenting Partner: LDC and Fort Dunlop; Community Partner: Lloyds Banking Group and Pertemps; Official Logistics Partner: Harrow Green; Parliament Partner, CrossCountry Trains; Official Education Partner: The Schools of King Edward VI with many companies joining as Unique Sponsors.

Why is Birmingham Children’s Hospital the chosen charity partner?

Birmingham Children’s Hospital is a very valued resource for the communities of Birmingham and beyond. In early discussions, they offered to work in partnership particularly in the areas of sponsorship procurement, and to fundraise to support the community and education programmes as part of their social and well-being campaigns, bringing a new dimension to the project.

Visit their website www.bch.org.uk for further information about how you can raise money to support their work.

What will be the economic benefits to the region?

Previous events demonstrate significant benefits and we very much hope this will be the case in Birmingham. Please see www.wildinart.co.uk for case studies, previous events and relevant statistics.

How many visitors do you expect the project to attract once the owls are on display?

Previous events in other locations have attracted over a million visitors to explore and discover their city or town. Please see www.wildinart.co.uk for specific locations and statistics

Why isn’t there an owl in my local area?

The Big Hoot is a partnership-led event and very much depends on the buy-in of local communities, funders and sponsors. Additionally, we invited schools throughout Birmingham to get involved and showcase young people’s creativity in their local area in a schools trail of medium sized Owlets.

Who’s paying for the owls to be made and designed?

The owl is designed by Chris Wilkinson, Wild in Art’s Creative Director as a special commission for The Big Hoot.

Who is Wild in Art?

Wild in Art is one of the country’s top producers of high-impact, public art exhibitions, featuring large-scale, individually designed and decorated ‘animal’ sculptures. For The Big Hoot, Wild in Art has worked with Birmingham partners to create a new sculpture for the city and the owl has been chosen as the quirky canvas for Birmingham’s exceptionally creative community.

Wild in Art create spectacular and award-winning events which inspire, amuse, entertain and educate, through the creation of trails and installations of uniquely decorated 3D animal and other sculptures.

From Superlambananas in Liverpool; crashes of rhinos in São Paulo and prides of lions in Nairobi, to parades of elephants in Melbourne and Gromit sculptures in Bristol, Wild in Art’s high-profile and media-friendly events have animated cities and enthralled people the world over.