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The Big Hop: Clan launch new trail as hare sculptures set to spring up across north-east and islands

Clan chief executive Fiona Fernie and Sarah Hardy from Wild in Art with one of the hares.  Photo by Kami Thomson
Clan chief executive Fiona Fernie and Sarah Hardy from Wild in Art with one of the hares. Photo by Kami Thomson

A major north-east cancer charity has revealed a new art initiative – and “hops” are high it is going to make a major impact.

Clan is behind the Big Hop sculpture trial and they hope it builds on the success of their Light the North scheme.

Last year, around 50 brightly decorated lighthouses appeared around Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the northern islands.

More than £300,000 was raised for Clan after the lighthouses were auctioned off in November 2021.

Now, the cancer support charity will scatter around 40 hares around the Grampian, Orkney and Shetland health board areas next summer.

This new trail also marks the charity’s 40th anniversary.

They will be auctioned off to raise cash for Clan in September 2023.

The charity will issue an open call for artists from across the country to decorate the near 6ft fibreglass effigies.

Lighthouse project provided creative spark

Clan’s chief executive Fiona Fernie said the success of Light the North last year was vital in providing a reference point for what to do next.

She said the Big Hop Trail will also mark a major milestone for the charity.

Fiona said: “The inspiration behind the Big Hop Trail is the success of the lighthouses led to a lot of people asking us what is coming next.

“We are hoping to do something inspirational for the north-east that helps Clan’s recovery as well as raising our profile across the region.

“Next September Clan will celebrate our 40th birthday.  It is really important for us to recognise the support the communities have given us in those 40 years.

“Having 40 sculptures place around our geographical footprint is really important for us to recognise everything Clan is.”

Clan Chief executive Fiona Fernie feels the charity and hares share an important trait. Photo by Kami Thomson / DCT Media

Why hares?

Clan’s boss Fiona Fernie has been explaining why they opted for hares for their latest art trail.

She said that the animal and the Westburn Road charity have a lot in common.

Fiona said: “Hares are indigenous to Scotland and they are indigenous to every single one of the geographies that Clan work in.

“The ears of the hare are massive and are iconic to the hare.  We provide a listening and support service to our clients.

“Hares are keen listeners and so are we. They also have to be highly adaptable which is what people have to be when they go through a cancer journey.”

Sarah Harvey of Wild in Art with one of the hares. Photo by Kami Thomson / DCT Media

Search for artists begins

Clan will issue an open call for artists from across the country to decorate the 6ft fibreglass hares before they are placed in their Big Hop trail locations in 2023.

Sarah Harvey from Wild in Art, who took part in Light the North, said they provide a blank canvas meaning people can really creative.

She said: “The trail brings a sense of colour and conversation which is perhaps quite unique.

“It is an open brief so the artist can use the canvas in their own way.  We are taking art work straight into the community.

“People will run up to the hare.  They will want photos and selfies with it.  So the artwork is really important and it brings something different.

“It is very different to the lighthouses as this is something with a face.”

Chief executive Fiona Fernie with one of the hares which is ready to be transformed. Photo by Kami Thomson / DCT Media

This time, schools will help

Around 100 north-east schools will be involved in the Big Hop Trail with miniature sculptures being sent to classrooms.

The smaller “moon gazer” statues are different to their 6ft cousins with the ears down and the hare looking up.

Clan will also be telling schools about the species – and also explaining a bit about the work they do with people suffering from cancer.

Businesses are also invited to sponsor the sculptures and charity bosses have already signed up the first one.

Scott Birnie from the Good Sleep Company in Banff is getting involved following Light the North.

He said:  “I am delighted to show my support once again and sign up as the first official sponsor for The Big Hop Trail.

“I didn’t know what Clan did before I was involved, so it’s good to be associated with the event.

“It’s not just from a business awareness perspective for me but also knowing how much the trail benefits Clan, does so much good and supports individuals and families in our local community.”

For more information on the Big Hop Trail visit here. 

Any businesses looking for further details about sponsorship of the hare sculptures or to express interest in the project  can email thebighop@clancancersupport.org or call 01224 647000.

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