A young artist from Ashingdon says taking part in a local sculpture trail has ‘propelled’ her career.
Charlie Stafford, 23, is one of the youngest artists behind Herd In The City, an art trail currently running in Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea and Shoeburyness. Created by Wild In Art and Havens Hospices, Herd In The City sees more than 100 large and baby sculptures dotted across the city, decorated by artists, schools and community groups.
Charlie usually works as a Fine Art teacher but decided to submit a design for Herd In The City by her Father in Law, who volunteers at children’s hospice Little Havens. She says, “I wasn’t expecting to get chosen, but I’m so glad I did. Havens Hospices is a charity close to my heart, and I’ve always wanted to branch out into public art, so this has been the perfect opportunity to celebrate both.
Charlie’s design is called ‘This is what HOPE looks like’ and was chosen by sponsors Essex & Suffolk Water. It’s currently on display outside The Forum Library in Southend-on-Sea. Describing the inspiration behind her design, Charlie says, “The gladioli rising up from the bottom represents the determination of hope. The butterfly denotes life’s fragility, which is also a nod to the Havens Hospices logo. There is a robin, too, which is symbolic of Little Havens, as this is the figure that’s displayed when a child has passed at the hospice.
“I really wanted this design to resonate with all the people connected to Havens Hospices as it’s a special tribute to them.”
Since completing her design for Herd In The City, Charlie’s career has gone from strength to strength. “I’ve been offered other Wild In Art opportunities, taken on a private commission and even some TV work which is top secret at the moment. People are starting to recognise me as a Herd In The City artist, which is odd but lovely.
“I hope that the legacy of Herd In The City is that everyone has the opportunity to be part of the creative industries and come together as a community. There is so much fun and enjoyment that comes from art, and it’s overlooked as a career. I want to prove that you can do this as a career and be successful. Art doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be free, and giving everyone that opportunity equally is so important.”
Herd In The City runs until 4 September, and there will be one final opportunity to see all the sculptures together at the Farewell Weekend on 23 and 24 September at Saxon Hall. Tickets are available at www.herdinthe.city/farewell
The large sculptures will then be auctioned to raise money for the care provided to local families by Havens Hospices.