Public vote opens to choose new character trail in York

Larger than life, vibrant and bold characters will guide people through York’s cobbled streets and hidden gardens in a new sculpture trail coming to York in 2024. The chosen character for the trail is down to the people of York, who have two designs to choose from, with a public vote open from today until Tuesday 28th February at 5pm.  

Last year, Make It York put a call out for Yorkshire based visual artists, designers and illustrators to create a unique character or creature, bespoke to the city. The brief asked for artists to design a character or creature that represents the city, something new and something different. There were 75 submissions, with Make It York narrowing it down to two final designs. Will it be the friendly monster Barouse inspired by the city’s rivers and bars? Or the bookish Snook, who can be found hiding in the city’s corners?   

Organised by Make It York, with charity partner St Leonard’s Hospice, the new trail featuring Barouse or Snook will launch in early 2024. Find out more about the two final designs and artists below: 

Barouse by Christine Jopling 

“Barouse” is a friendly monster who has a castellated head and a big droplet of a body. It’s battlement-shaped head is inspired by the bars around York’s unique wall, and its rotund frame is like a drop of water from the River Ouse, which runs right through York’s centre. Bringing together these two important aspects of the City – the walls and the river – in a fun and approachable figure. Barouse is a simple, chunky monster, and its friendly features are created to appeal to humans of all ages.  

About Christine Jopling: Christine is a freelance illustrator based in a little studio, opposite a chippy in Pudsey, Leeds. Working as an illustrator since 1995, she’s still noodling and doodling – happy to hand-letter a wedding reading or a wall, paint British Birds or beer bottles, create monsters or maps, or ink in aliens and armadillos. All of Christine’s work starts with a doodle in pencil on paper, using Indian ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, Posca pens, emulsion paint or maybe a bit of digital scribbling to create the finished thing 

Snook by Sian Ellis 

There are plenty of old buildings around the city that you’re bound to have spotted, from the higgledy piggledy shops along The Shambles to Clifford’s Tower to the city walls, but have you ever set eyes on a Snook? They’ve been here just as long as even The Norman House (the oldest building in York) but they are a little more hidden away than the historic sights of the city that you are familiar with. 

A bookish breed they are often found in cosy corners with their faces buried inside the pages of a good book. However recently Snook sightings have skyrocketed, and it looks like these friendly folk have been enjoying some sightseeing around the city walls. 

Old habits die hard though and you aren’t likely to spot a Snook without a book in its hands. It could be a novel, an anthology or a playbook but it might also be a guide to bird spotting, a family photo album, an instruction manual for building a rocket or a travel diary and sketchbook.  

About Sian Ellis: Sian is a Yorkshire based illustrator and mural artist whose work is playful, fun and full of humour. She is inspired by the bold and the bright, the weird and the wonderful. Sian has created art on a national scale and in a range of mediums, ranging from detailed fine drawing to twelve foot paintings and even a metre long knitted head band for a fibre glass gorilla! Sian has created a number of murals around Yorkshire and has worked on a number of charity sculpture trails across the UK, with which the sales of her sculptures have to date raised over £100,000 for charitable causes.  

Vote for your favourite design here by 5pm on Tuesday 28th February. 

Sarah Loftus, Managing Director at Make It York, said: “We’re really looking forward to bringing a new trail and introducing a new character to York in 2024. Our final two artists have done a brilliant job at bringing the characters to life and we look forward to seeing the winning design in our city next year. We’re really pleased to be working with our charity partner, St Leonard’s Hospice, on this project.”  

Dawn Clements, Director of Income Generation at St Leonard’s Hospice, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Make It York and to be part of this exciting activity. It will be a fun way to help us engage further with our community, not only educating people about our services but also helping to raise vital funds to support people facing life-limiting illnesses and bereavement. We are proud that we can represent hospice care in such a unique way and it’s a great opportunity to work with new supporters and volunteers. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with Sarah and the team at Make It York and, of course, either Barouse or Snook.” 

Councillor Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities said: “York’s latest trail will add more colour and fun to our beautiful city whilst supporting a wonderful cause. I’d like to thank all artists who submitted their ideas as part of the competition, it was extremely difficult to narrow the excellent submissions down to the final two. The final choice is now in the hands of York’s residents who have the difficult choice between these two fun characters.” 

Christine Jopling, artist of Barouse, said: “I’m so chuffed that Barouse has made it this far, I still can’t quite believe it! It was quite a challenge to come up with something that represents York in a fun, approachable sculpture, but when Barouse popped into my head I thought – “That’s it!” If Barouse is chosen I hope it’s a fun form for the artists to let themselves loose on, and that the sculptures bring a smile to the faces of residents and visitors to York.” 

Sian Ellis, artist of Snook, said: “Since 2019 I have been travelling from my studio in Yorkshire to paint sculptures for trails across the UK. I absolutely love being involved with every trail so to get the chance to design a brand new and unique sculpture design would be an absolute dream come true for me! I would love love LOVE to see the Snooks with Books come to life and explore the city and it would be absolutely brilliant to see other artists unleash their imaginations onto each one. I think it could be such a magical addition for the local community to see them pop up on the streets of York.  My menagerie of painted pals currently totals 17 including gorillas, wallabies, elephants and even a T-Rex, and the sales of my painted sculptures have raised over £100,000 to date for local charities. To be chosen as the artist to design the sculpture for the Make It York 2024 trail would be the cherry on top of my work with sculpture trails so far!” 


For more information, please contact: 

Sarah Foster and Brittany Guymer 

Communications Team at Make It York 

About Make It York 

Make It York’s purpose is to develop and promote the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally – as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. Its mission is to grow the economic prosperity and wider wellbeing of York and its citizens. In practice, this means delivering a range of projects and programmes based around our corporate strategic priorities.   

These are:  

  • City positioning and profile-raising 
  • Ensuring an exciting city centre 
  • Delivering the city’s ground-breaking Cultural Strategy 

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