Unicorns trot on to streets

DOWNEND and Staple Hill have welcomed two magical visitors for the summer.

Unicorns Gracie and Bee Magical Brizzle are part of Unicornfest, a trail raising awareness and money for charity Leukaemia Care.

Over the summer holidays families are being encouraged to visit unicorns across the area, finding them via maps which are being sold at shops, cafes, pubs and other businesses in and around Downend’s high street, including Craig Anthonys, Kip McGrath and the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Gracie, on the corner of Badminton Road and Cleeve Road outside the former Lloyds Bank, was designed by Bristol artist Kim Reed and is being sponsored by Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Parish council chair Janet Biggin has enlisted the help of youth group Ignite, from Christ Church Downend, to keep Gracie clean and, supervised by leaders Gary Smart and Diane Paddon, members of the group are taking buckets and sponges along to give the statue, named in honour of legendary Downend-born cricketer WG Grace, a weekly wash.

Janet said: “When we had Gromit here a few years ago they helped to keep him clean and they were more than happy to help again as they like to find community work for the children to do.”

Artist Kim Reed, who paints under the name Kreed, mixed fairytales and inspirations from Downend past and present to create her work.

The dragon’s scales on the back legs relate to the Green Dragon pub, now Mezze, while the colours of the horn are taken from WG Grace’s cap in the National Portrait Gallery.

The buildings are inspired by the Green Dragon, Christ Church, St Augustine’s Church, Cleevewood House and local houses, with added fairytale features. 

The rainbow of flowers is inspired by Downend’s floral displays, while the dragon theme returns with Gracie’s head and eyes.

Kim said: “I wanted to create a fun, joyful unicorn. Using different paint techniques to add texture, creating a multi sensory experience. 

“You can run your hand along and feel the rough then the smooth, look into the details and feel like you are walking into a fairytale. 

“I’ve loved creating her – it was an amazing experience to be painting amongst the public and everyone was so kind. 

“I am overwhelmed by the reactions I’ve had, from Downend people and throughout Bristol.”

Bee Magical Brizzle stands in the outdoor seating area of the Forge & Fern pub in Broad Street, Staple Hill, which has sponsored the statue.

Created by Bristol artist Amy Magee and the children of Sefton Park infant and junior schools in Ashley Down, organisers say it is inspired by the Forge & Fern’s green ‘living wall’ which attracts bees that produce honey and promote biodiversity.

Downend-based a property services company BNS is also involved in the trail as a sponsor of Neuro-Disco-Corn, a unicorn at the Clifton Suspension Bridge on the Leigh Woods side.

Adorned with disco ball tiles, the unicorn carries messages from neurodiverse people – with conditions such as autism or dyslexia – sharing their personal experiences.

Managing director Ian Simmonds said: “We are honoured to support the work done by Leukaemia

Care and are proud that our unicorn sculpture serves as a glimmering beacon, spreading awareness and fostering support and acceptance for neurodiversity.”

Unicornfest runs until September 3.

For more information visit website theunicornfest.co.uk.