The Big Sleuth auction raises over £257,300 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital

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The bear hunt officially came to an end last night, as Wild In Art and Birmingham Children’s Hospital auctioned off the fun, colourful bear sculptures which have been part of our city for the summer.

Following the wildly successful Big Hoot two years ago, The Big Sleuth received a warm welcome from Brummies when the trail launched in July. Last night, with the expert help of Fieldings Auctioneers, 91 of the 238 bears went under the hammer at ThinkTank Science Museum, raising a grand total of £257,300.

The evening began with a reminder of why we were all there, and the main inspiration behind The Big Sleuth — the incredible work done by the doctors and nurses of Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Having seen first-hand the care that my little nephew received during his time there, I couldn’t agree more that this is a worthy and important cause. And I’m not alone; Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive officer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, drew rapturous applause from the entire room with her impassioned opening speech.

A number of celebrities have got involved with designing bears for The Big Sleuth and supporting the trail, including Citizen Khan’s Adil Ray, The Vamps’ Bradley Simpson, and Bear Grylls. Additionally, Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight created a special bear inspired by the hit series, which sold last night for £5,900.

While it has been almost impossible to compare the bear sculptures, as they comprise such a diverse range of styles and artistic approaches, the organisers did select a shortlist of six hot contenders to watch out for during the auction. There was the aforementioned Peaky Blinders bear, the Xt by local artist Reuben Colley, and the stunning Peabody, the irridescent, celestial peacock-inspired bear created by Tory Allen which graced much of the Big Sleuth’s promotional materials.

Then we had Arron Bird’s (Temper) Window Shopping bear, which was positioned outside the Bullring and featured several ingenious cut-out “shop window” sections; it reached £2,800 at auction. Sweet William, the colourful mosaic bar from St Phillip’s Square, was made with a mix of ceramics, vintage pottery, and glass by Caroline Jariwala, and went for £6,100. Spock, the Star Trek homage who has been sat in residence in Victoria Square, was designed by Maria Shrigley and sold for £2,400.

Other standout items from the auction included Peony Passion by Michelle Turton, which sold for £8,000, and Julie Allum’s Buzz Bear from the University of Birmingham, which raised £9,000.

So now, with the statues gone from our streets and the proceeds going to an incredibly worthy cause, there’s only one thing left to say. Goodbye, bears!

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