Anyone who’s been following my Facebook page lately will have noticed that I’ve been a bit obsessed with two giant squirrels over the past few weeks.

These 5ft creatures are part of a 23-strong group created for the Highland Hospice’s Go Nuts Art Trail, which will raise money for the charity over the summer. The trail launches on June 28 and the sculptures, made by Scott Gleed at Gleed3D, will be displayed in towns and villages throughout the Highlands.

I heard about the project earlier this year when there was a call for designs. How could I pass up the chance to paint a 5ft squirrel?

My concept was to cover the squirrel in lots of different picture of Highland cows – they’re the colour of red squirrels and everyone likes them. My S1 and S2 pupils at Grantown Grammar School drew lots of Highland cows for our design, which was selected by sponsor Inverness Bid.

  • Two blank squirrel sculptures for Angus Grant Art
  • Roll of printed Highland Cow stickers, printed by Owen Kerr Signs
  • Nearly finished Highland Cow squirrel by Angus Grant Art for the Highland Hospice
  • Detail on Highland Cow squirrel by Angus Grant Art for the Highland Hospice

We were really lucky to get materials donated by Owen Kerr Signs, who printed all the pictures onto a massive roll of vinyl wrap. The pupils helped to cut them all out individually and then they were stuck onto the fibreglass sculpture. It’s been an excellent chance for lots of Grantown Grammar’s pupils to be involved in the production of a piece of public art and they are all looking forward to seeing their work on display.

Using so many drawings makes this design quite intricate and the viewer is rewarded for their interest by finding more and more of the pupils’ drawings as they look around the squirrel. Large sections of yellow and brown cow fur were used to decorate the Highland Hospice’s sunflower logo.

The Highland Coo squirrel will be proudly on display in the middle of Inverness!

You’ll notice on the slideshow that there’s two blank squirrels. As well as my Highland cow design, I was asked to design one to be displayed in Boat of Garten by its sponsor Graham MacPherson.

When Graham’s wife Lorraine – a driving force behind many community projects – fell ill, she was cared for at the hospice. Since her death in 2014, the family has supported the hospice and Graham is sponsoring a squirrel for Boat of Garten as part of that continued support.

The Spey Art Group, which I tutor, got involved in this one, helping to tie together all the different elements involved in the design, and the senior pupils at GGS helped to paint it. I really love how it’s turned out, with lots of things that are special to Boat of Garten – a flying osprey, a steam train and the community hall. And it’s even got Boat of Garten tartan slippers.

  • Finished Boat of Garten squirrel by Angus Grant Art for the Highland Hospice

And actually our art department ended up with three squirrels! A design by my colleague, probationer teacher Hannah MacAskill also got selected. Her squirrel shows all the places where the hospice has shops. They combine to make a striking, graphic map of the Highlands. With Hannah’s support, pupils helped to render all the intricate contour lines and place names to create this design.

It’s going to be on show in Inverness, outside Abertarff House on Church Street.

Here we are with the finished sculptures. They’re now away for a coat of lacquer before they go on display at the end of the month. You can follow the progress of the project and see the other designs on the Go Nuts Art Trail Facebook page. I am really looking forward to seeing photos of them in their new homes. Share your pictures and tag @angusgrantart if you spot one of mine!

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