If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise…

But if you go down to Southampton, you’re in for an even bigger one. Because it’s one of two cities chosen to host the Hampshire Hare Trail.

A spectacular public art event is leaping into action this summer. Streets, gardens and public spaces are becoming home to a collection of magnificent hares. Each giant sculpture has been individually designed and, alongside the larger-than-life hares, you’ll also spot lots of cute and colourful leverets.

The trail is free and runs until the 29th of August.

What’s it All In Aid Of ?

As well as bringing some country cheer to city spaces, and creating a free and fun art trail for all, the Hampshire Hares are raising money for an incredibly good cause: The Murray Parish Trust.

The Murray Parish Trust was founded by Sarah Parish and James Murray. They tragically lost their first daughter, Ella-Jayne, to a congenital heart defect. In 2014, they established TMPT which is dedicated to the advancement of paediatric emergency medicine across the South of England.

To date the Trust has raised almost £5 million in partnership with Southampton hospital, including funding for a a Specialist Intensive Care children’s bed and a Specialist Helicopter Gurney to transport critically ill infants via Air Ambulance.

As well as raising awareness for the charity, the hares will be auctioned after a farewell- or should that be ‘Hare-well’?- event to raise funds for The Murray Parish Trust.

The Hampshire Hares

Each hare has been individually designed by an artist and sponsored by a local business. Some of the artists are Hampshire based, others from further afield. Some already have an established creative career, some are just starting out.

The range of designs and influences is huge, from Dr Who inspired designs to leverets with the cutest strawberry nose. Hockley Hare by Catherine Ruth Church is my favourite spot to date; I love anything with a bit of gold and pink, and this hare looks very handsome against the stone backdrop of the old city gates.

Alongside the full size hares, there are lots of leverets. Designed by local school children and community groups, each one is thoughtful and unique. Also an interesting peek into what children have on their minds today. I spotted lots of symbols of hope and friendship, plenty of natural world inspiration and references to the Ukraine.

Southampton is one of a pair of cities hosting this big art event, the other being Winchester. With this in mind, one of the hares has been designed as a nod to both.

‘Rusty’ is depicted wearing old ships chains and an anchor as a nod to Southampton and its rich Naval heritage. Winchester is reflected with the famous Round table depicted in the eyes and Excalibur in the ears.

A detailed design that pays homage to two different, but equally brilliant, cities.

The Hampshire Hare Gin

Yes, it keeps on getting better. There’s also gin. A special, small batch Hampshire Hare gin.

The micro batch gin has been created by the gin lovers at the Firsty Foal, in collaboration with a local distillery. The gin has an organic base spirit- meaning no artificial nasties- and includes botanicals like lemon, mint a fresh hedgerow berries.

Image via The Firsty Foal

As well as sounding delightful (My bottle is en route. I’ll research thoroughly and report back), the Hampshire Hare gin is beautifully branded. Just look at the folksy, floral art on the bottle. I have all the heart eyes.

If you fancy a taste without splashing out on a full bottle, a taster box is also available here.

A percentage of profits from all the Hampshire Hare Gin sales will go directly to The Murray Parish Trust. That’s worth raising a glass to, isn’t it?

The Useful-to-Know Stuff

The Hampshire Hares Art Trail runs across Southampton and Winchester from 16th June- 29th August.

There are printed maps of each trail available from various locations- find details here

If you prefer, there is also an app available for £1.79, with net proceeds going to The Murray Parish Trust. The app includes the chance to win a prize from a sponsor and other features including the ability to map how far you’ve walked whilst hare spotting.

Hares of Hampshire has been created by Wild in Art, who produce public art events up and down the country. They’ve hares in Hampshire, Giraffes in Edinburgh and are bringing Snowdogs to Swindon in 2023. Click this link to see if they have any events planned near you.

If you liked this post, try one of these next: The Leipzig Panometer for more big scale arty stuff, or 6 Reasons to visit Southampton for another look at this buzzing port city.

Helen x

28 thoughts

  1. These are wonderful and love the detail on them all. A great project

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      They are lovely, every one with its own details. Thanks for your interest in this post, I appreciate it! 😊

  2. How lovely! I actually made a long awaited trip to Winchester 2 weeks ago today and encountered a plethora of Hares.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’m hoping to get to Winchester to see the hares before the end of the month. It’s such a beautiful city, the perfect backdrop for an art trail.

      1. Yes, I’d been waiting to go to Winchester for years and it didn’t disappoint.

  3. What a great project, and all in a great cause. Thanks for taking us along,and I’m sorry not to see this for real.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Margaret, I’m glad you enjoyed it. One of the joys of blogging, you get a glimpse into places you can’t make it to!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It really is- good fun, good cause and gin. Couldn’t ask much more!

      1. My two sisters would agree with the gin bit

  4. Interesting statues and a great project. The statues remind me of the bears in Berlin and the sheep in San Angelo [https://pitsfritztownnehws.wpcomstaging.com/2021/08/08/san-angelos-sheep-statues-a-photo-essay/].

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’m a big fan of the Berlin bears! Those sheep are lovely, they fit the town very well. San Angelo has it all going on, the murals are very quirky!

      1. We really loved San Angelo: a very neat and interesting town.

  5. NattyTravels says:

    How Sweet! And what a great cause 👏🏾

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s a lovely way to raise funds for a great cause and create a fabulous event for the community. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s a lovely way to support a good cause 😊

  6. The hares look lovely and it’s such a great idea especially for children during the holidays to be able to follow the trail and discover them all. Look forward to seeing the ones in Winchester with your eyes too!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks Marion- I’ll hopefully make it to Winchester!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      They are very cheerful 😊

  7. Louise Jayne says:

    They look great! I’d added this to my things to do list when they were first announced but I haven’t really got time now to visit. I’m impressed with the gin too, that’s a fun idea.

  8. Oh my how beautiful are they! I need to find an art trail like that local to me, Hares are such delightful animals and sounds like a good cause too. 🙂

  9. I suspect these hares might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find them charming. Plus, you know, the charity aspect of it is great. I’m with you I think on Hockley Hare being the pick of the bunch. Any idea how much these bunnies might go for at auction? Tempted? 😉

  10. Oohhh I love when artists get together for a good cause. We hosted a similar event in Mumbai (India) in 2018 – where top designers got together to paint elephants that were set up across the city and later auctioned. The money raised was used to secure elephant corridors in India. I wish we had some fun alcohol or merch linked to the event too for those who couldn’t really auction on the elephants.

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