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17 pigs spotted marauding around streets of Basingstoke

IF you think you can hear some distant oinking when trotting in to Basingstoke town centre then you’re not mistaken. You could be about to come across one of 17 amazing Hampshire Hogs that have moved into the streets of Basingstoke for the next two months.

The Hampshire Hogs Arts Trail was launched recently and is a wonderful free arts trail that everyone can enjoy right the way through to mid-October.

All of the hogs have been designed and painted by local artists and the trail was officially launched on Monday, August 10, with the hogs now on display all over the town.

Katy Stevens
Katy Stevens

Following her success in Basingstoke’s previous Arts Trail – the Sitting with Jane Bookbenches, Tadley artist Katy Stevens has been commissioned again to design and paint one of these magnificent sculptures for this exciting new project.

Her Sitting with Jane Bookbench design was voted as the people’s favourite in the popular arts trail and raised an amazing £7,000 for charity at auction, the highest price achieved that night. Katy has since topped that record, selling her last painted sculpture for an eye-watering £11,000, all of which went to the sponsored charity.

Katy’s design for the Hampshire Hogs Arts Trail is called Sea Sweetie and is inspired by the magical story of The Water Babies written by the famous 19th-century author Charles Kingsley who lived and died in Eversley in Hampshire.

Hogs ready for the road
Hogs ready for the road

The story tells of little chimney sweep Tom who escapes a life of abuse from his master. Running away from his own reflection he tries to wash away the soot and grime that covers him from head to foot but falls in to the water and into another world unlike anything he has ever known… the world of The Water Babies.

Here Tom experiences love, warmth and friendship for the first time but becomes a bit too fond of the sea sweeties that they are treated to each week by the enigmatic Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did. He becomes obsessed and can think of nothing else but the sea sweets… When will she next come? How many sweets will she give him? Could he get more?

His obsession takes over and he follows Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did to find out where the sweeties are kept. That night Tom returns and breaks into the sweetie cupboard and eats the lot, making himself quite ill in the process.

The following day, riddled with guilt from his nighttime exploits, he awakes to find himself covered with thorns! None of the babies dare to come close to him for fear of getting prickled and when the sweets are given out, he feels sick to the stomach. The worst thing of all is that he is too spiky to be hugged anymore.

Katy's Sea Sweetie
Katy's Sea Sweetie

Katy’s design Sea Sweetie illustrates beautifully this sad tale of Tom and his predicament and is painted using a rich tapestry of colours and textures using acrylics and gold and silver leaf.

It shimmers in deep blues, greens and turquoise’s with a rainbow of brightly-coloured sea sweets spilling out in the water. You’ll find him outside the Basingstoke Railway Station for the duration of the trail.

“This book was a childhood favourite of mine and I must have read it a dozen times or more,” says Katy. “Ironically, it played a significant part in my aspiration to become an artist with illustrations so beautiful contained within the book that they have stayed with me forever.”

You can download the Hampshire Hogs app for free. The app shows you exactly where the hogs are so they are easy to find and even suggests where to go next.

There is lots of information about each hog, including details about the artist, its sponsor and picture. Each hog has its own #tag so you can tag them in your own Instagram pictures for them to be added to that hog’s gallery. You check off each hog as you go so you can track your progress towards completing the trail.

Katy's Sea Sweetie detail
Katy's Sea Sweetie detail

Earlier this year, Katy took up a creative role working with the Corn Exchange, where she is creating opportunities for the older community to engage in an amazing array of arts and cultural activities and projects to enhance health and wellbeing.

Delivering everything from art and music workshops to yoga and dancing classes, there is a rich programme of classes and events to motivate and encourage everyone to get involved in the arts.

“It is a real privilege to be working with an organisation that has such a fantastic history of engagement in the arts for the people in our community and the Newbury Corn Exchange is at the heart of arts and culture in West Berkshire.”

Katy continues creating her art alongside her new role with the Corn Exchange and is soon to be exhibiting her work in the Hampshire Open Studios scheme with a group of 18 local artists and designer makers called Seven Artists+ at Proteus Creation Space, Council Road, Basingstoke, RG21 3DH.

An explosion of colour and creativity best summarises this collection of work and she will have originals and prints available to buy and/or order at the event.

Open Studios begins on Sunday and is another free event to attend.

So immerse yourself in art and culture this summer… and look out for marauding pigs and sea sweeties, they’re on the loose in a town near you.

Sea Sweetie detail
Sea Sweetie detail

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