This weekend, several thousand Cow spotters milked a final opportunity to say goodbye to the beautiful bovine sculptures that have grazed the streets of Cambridge this summer, ahead of their sale at a charity auction on Thursday 23 September.
Herd HQ at The Grafton played host to the Farewell Weekend, where 45 of the lifesize Cows and 3 mini moos were on display alongside a micro moo that was 3D-printed by event sponsor, Xaar. Some of the artists – including Karis Youngman, Anne Marie Byrne, Anne Marie Miller, Tori Woolley, Chris Pointon, Claire Gale and Paula Wilson – were on hand to discuss the inspiration behind their designs.
For ten weeks between June and September the entire herd of 90 sculptures provided a feel-good factor in shopping centres and open spaces across Cambridge city centre, thanks to trail organisers Wild in Art working in collaboration with principal partner Cambridge BID, official travel partner Thameslink and auction beneficiary Break – a charity working with children and young people on the edge of care, in care and leaving care.
“Anyone else miss the cows around Cambridge?” asked Ann, a local fan. “I used to pass them on my way to work. Cambridge seems empty now.”
“We’re sad that they are moooooving on,” commented Claire.
“Why can’t the cows stay?” queried Dan. “I think they are brilliant and deserve a permanent place!”
“We hope that some of the Cows sold at auction this Thursday may indeed find themselves back on public display,” explained Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-Founder of trail organisers Wild in Art. “We know from previous events that businesses and organisations often spot a design that would resonate with their customers and stakeholders, so they buy the Cow at auction to display in their foyer or another public space.
“Not only are these sculptures unique pieces of art, they are also great conversation starters and they lift people’s spirits. And then there’s the fact that each purchase helps to raise thousands of pounds for charity. Moovellous!”
Some of these udderly unique auction lots will also be bought by collectors, families and individuals. “I can imagine they would look quite something in a garden big enough!” commented trail-goer Rob.
While the majority of lifesize Cows will take centre stage in Thursday’s auction, most of the mini moos have now returned to their forever homes with the schools and community groups that created them.
“My youngest was excited to see their mini moo back in school today,” said mum Rebecca.
The spectacular live auction will be held at the Graduate Hotel, Cambridge from 7pm on Thursday evening, where celebrity auctioneer Charles Hanson will bring down the hammer on 43 lots. Online bidders can join in the action from a livestream direct to their living room, and non-bidders are invited to follow the event via the Cows about Cambridge YouTube channel. To view the auction lots, apply for tickets to Thursday’s in-person event, or register an advance bid, visit cowsaboutcambridge.co.uk/auction.
ARTIST CASE STUDY: KARIS YOUNGMAN, WANDERING LIONS
“This weekend was a chance to say Farewell to my cow Wandering Lions (also nicknamed Moo-riel by her sponsor, Bidwells). I’m very attached to her, especially after the long hibernation last year.
“The Cows about Cambridge trail gave me a chance to bring to life one of the legends that I’ve always wanted to depict: the Fitzwilliam Museum Lions, which legends say go wandering at night. I wondered what they might get up to though the times and seasons. I wanted to show Cambridge in an interesting and fun way, linking in things people might not know – like the connection with C.S Lewis.
“It was also great to see so many of the herd together this weekend, and to talk to visitors who had been on the trail as well as those who could only make the farewell event. It gave me a chance to tell them a bit more about the cow and the process of designing her.
“I have been visiting the various trails since I was a kid and always wanted to take part in one. I’ve always loved the way they bring joy to any age and make people smile as they see them, and you learn things about a city you might not know.”