Giant Hares arrive in Winchester

Over the past few weeks as spring arrived, residents of Winchester spotted some unusual activity across the city. Locals took to social media to share photos of a giant hare which popped up at various locations, disappearing just as mysteriously as it arrived.

It has now been revealed that the Hare in question is just one of a drove of 30, 6ft high Hares, that will be taking over the City throughout the summer of 2022 as part of the largest outdoor art installation that Winchester has ever seen.

Hares of Hampshire, a Wild in Art event brought to you by local charity The Murray Parish Trust, is launching this spectacular public art trail which will see the ‘larger than life’ brightly painted statues pop up at 30 separate locations from Monday 16th June until Sunday 4th September 2022.

For 10 weeks, Winchester streets, parks and public spaces will be brought to life with an exhibition of these magnificent hares. Each giant sculpture will be sponsored by a business and individually designed by local artists, showcasing the wealth of artistic talent the county has to offer – while positively contributing to the economic, cultural and social life of the area.

Smaller, baby hare sculptures, Leverets, will be available to all schools and youth groups across Hampshire as part of The Little Leverets Learning Programme. Participating organisations will be able to design their Leveret ready to be displayed across the City alongside the larger Hares.

Residents and visitors to the City will be able to hop on the free, fun, family-friendly trail of discovery to find the Hares using an interactive app. The app will map out the route allowing everyone to explore some of Winchester’s famous landmarks including Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall, Abbey Grounds, River Park and more.  As you visit each uniquely decorated Hare or Leveret, the app will allow users to receive special offers or discounts from the sponsor as well as display information about the artist, fun facts about the hare and its location.

The Hares of Hampshire event hopes to raise awareness and funds for local charity, The Murray Parish Trust, which was founded in 2014 by actors Sarah Parish and James Murray in memory of their late daughter who sadly died in 2009 due to a congenital heart condition.

Sarah Parish (Actor and co-founder of the trust) says:

“On May the 3rd 2009, the day that would have marked Ella-Jayne’s first birthday, I was filled with a grief that I could not shake. I got on my bike and went for a cycle to try and clear my head and in a nearby field I spotted a young Hare, a leveret. I got off my bike, climbed over the fence and walked slowly towards it. It didn’t move, just calmly locked its gaze on me. As we stood staring at each other I was filled with the most euphoric happiness, suddenly everything that had happened in the last 12 months slotted into place….. New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings, Ella-Jayne would live on through the charity we founded in her memory. The Murray Parish Trust.” 

The Hampshire based charity has raised several million pounds towards facilities and equipment for critically ill or injured children at University Hospital Southampton including a state-of-the-art Children’s Emergency and Trauma Department which opened its doors in late 2019 and is now fully operational treating thousands of children from across the South of England each year. Their latest appeal is to raise £2.1 million to fund a revolutionary iMRI Suite at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

“Hares are a poignant symbol of the continuation of life, positivity and regeneration. Sarah and I felt they are an apt symbol for both The Murray Parish Trust and Winchester, as it comes alive again after the pandemic. We can’t wait to see a drove of hare sculptures bringing new life and optimism to the city’s streets in Summer 2022.” Jim Murray

Hares of Hampshire is supported by Winchester BID (Business Improvement District) a not-for-profit organisation led by the businesses of Winchester. Sarah Davis, Business improvement District Manager, Winchester BID says:

“This spectacular trail is an exciting addition to the wide range of festivals and events held annually in Winchester. It will deliver significant economic, social and cultural impacts to the city whilst benefiting local businesses. We look forward to seeing local artists engaging in the design process; more visitors coming to our beautiful city and a boost of civic pride for local residents. We are delighted to be able to support this exciting new initiative.” 

We are delighted that BECG has hopped on board as Sponsors of Hares of Hampshire. Stephen Pomeroy, CEO of the Winchester based communications consultancy says:

“When asked to support this unique and interactive project we jumped at the chance to be involved. I have been so impressed and proud with how our teams have embraced this project and worked alongside the fantastic team at The Murray Parish Trust to bring it to life.” 

To learn more about this extraordinary event hop on over to www.haresofhampshire.co.uk where you will find information on our sponsorship packages, learner programme, and opportunities for artists. Alternatively, you can email info@haresofhampshire.co.uk