Martlets Shaun by the Sea Brighton

Fatboy Slim “Bleat, Sleep, Graze Repeat” in support of Martlets Hospice and the Shaun the Sheep Art Trail

Martlets have teamed up with Aardman Studios, the creators of the infamous Shaun the Sheep character to set up the latest public art event in the city – Shaun By the Sea. The trail connects people from every corner of Brighton, whilst also raising money to keep supporting the important care Martlets gives.

This trail follows the success of Snowdogs and SnailSpace in past years, which was when Norman Cook also known as FatBoy Slim, now ambassador of the Martlets, started to get more involved with the Hospice. I joined Cook half way through his half walking marathon, where we met the artists behind the different Shaun the Sheep and raised money in the process. 42 beautifully and uniquely redesigned Shaun’s can be spotted all over Brighton and Hove as well as the 77 little Shaun’s roaming every corner of the city. The little Shaun’s were created by local community groups and schools. The trail lasts for eight weeks and all Shaun installations will then be auditioned off with donations going to the Martlets.

How did the fundraiser go last time, did you take anything away from that, that you brought to this time round?

Last time was a full marathon, 26 miles and so it was hard. It was 13 hours but it was more the mental boredom than the physical thing. This time round I thought we’re not going all the way to Falmer, so that’s not as far. I won’t train, I’ll go to America and come back with jet lag and now I’m beginning to slightly regret that.

You’re an ambassador for Martlets, could you tell me a bit about how you got involved with the hospice?

I got involved because my father -in-law spent his final days in the hospice and it really touched me there. The level of care and the love that they put into it and how they made a potentially horrible situation a little bit more palatable.

Then around the time of the SnowDogs I started to get more involved with it, I was having fun, like we are now. Later down the line, they asked me about being an official ambassador. Martlets it’s so part of the Brighton community, it’s quite an easy job because I just have to say the words Martlets, and I can see in their eyes if they’ve been touched by what Martlets has done, I know they will
be putty in my hands.

It’s the only one in Brighton so you or one of your relatives is going to end up there and there’s something about their attitude to death, they make you own it. Like the best death possible and just hearing someone talk about a happy death is a weird thing but it does kind of work. I’ve learnt a lot and it just feels right.

How was the bus ride around town to see the Shaun the Sheep Trail with one of the original creators, Peter Lord?

It was one of the launch events, we did an open top bus ride around Brighton to see the sheep on display. I’ve lived in this city for 40 years and I’ve never done an open top bus ride. It was really nice to meet Peter Lord. Aardman studios have been very good to us.

Peter Lord, founder of Aardman Animations. Image credit Liz Finlayson / Vervate

Aardman are such a quintessential British film studio do you have a favourite from them?

There was a thing called Creator Comforts and it started out as an advert for British Gas and everyone liked it so much that they turned it into a series. I really like that, just like what you said, that very British thing of just people talking and then animating them and the regional accents. I’ve got that nostalgia for the old days and because newer films overuse CGI on everything. I love the idea of eccentric old men hunched over sculpting things and after all Peter Lord was the original creator, so he was the original eccentric old man sculpting it all.

Do you have a favourite sheep or have you got involved with any of the installations yourself, is there a secret “Norman the Sheep” out there we should be looking for?

I have absolutely no artistic talent whatsoever, I can’t draw, I’m colour blind. I think that’s why I like and appreciate art so much because I can’t do it. My favourite obviously is our one at the cafe, which is by George Fox, he’s a friend of mine. He does intricate drawings of workings of things, like the drawings of Heath Robinson, he draws technical diagrams but tongue in cheek. So I suggested to George that he do the inner workings of a sheep, obviously taking a lot of artistic licence of how a sheep works. I’m very very fond of that because it’s one we commissioned and it’s outside our cafe.

See the full trail here:

Martlets Shaun by the Sea Bus Tour
credit Liz Finlayson / Vervate

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