Volunteer Puppy Raisers (l-r) Louise Roche, Annie Hawkins, Sally Ross, and Annette Fettes and guide dog puppies, with one of 25 artist-designed dog sculptures that make up ‘Paws on the Wharf ‘, a sculpture trail created by Guide Dogs in partnership with Wild in Art and hosted by Canary Wharf Group (CWG). Issue date: Tuesday March 26, 2024. PA Photo t is the latest installation to join CWG’s free public art collection, and runs until Friday May 17. Photo credit : Matt Crossick/PA wire.

Paws on the Wharf: Guide Dogs announces inclusive art trail in Canary Wharf

Guide Dogs and Wild in Art are thrilled to announce a spectacular accessible art trail, aptly titled Paws on the Wharf, which is taking place in Canary Wharf until 17 May 2024.

This unique and engaging initiative aims to raise awareness about sight loss while celebrating the extraordinary bond between guide dogs and the people that they help. The event will feature 25 guide dog sculptures, each skillfully painted by a different artist, transforming Canary Wharf into a free public art exhibition that highlights the power of creativity and inclusivity.

From vibrant characters and colours to thought-provoking designs, these sculptures will not only showcase a wide array of artistic talent, but also convey the importance of fostering an inclusive and accessible society that understands and supports individuals with visual impairments. Five of the sculptures will feature exclusive artwork by artists with sight loss including Angela Charles, Alex Devlin, Kevin Gavaghan, Sian Healey and Clarke Reynolds.

To encourage education and awareness in school-aged children, Guide Dogs has also been working with schools to create one very unique sculpture. Schools throughout Tower Hamlets were invited to participate in a student-led sculpture design competition with accompanying learning resource pack supporting the Ofsted framework. Designs were reviewed by an independent judging panel which included award-winning author and illustrator Adam Stower. The winning school, Ben Jonson Primary School will see their sculpture brought to life by experienced trail artist Jill Busby and feature on the main trail.

The art trail promises an enchanting experience for Londoners and visitors alike. Sixteen of the sculptures will be located in Canary Wharf itself and nine will be placed in the wider Tower Hamlets borough. The trail will include a programme of exciting events and will be completely free. It aims to be one of the most accessible art trails yet to ensure inclusivity for people with sight loss and other disabilities. In addition to being step free and offering different options for maps, there will be an option to access the trail through the NaviLens App and NaviLens Codes – cutting-edge technology to enable people with sight loss to visit the trail independently. The NaviLens App will also provide information about the guide dog sculptures, the artists and the sponsors. Guide Dogs will also be offering sighted guide tours on specific days for people who would prefer support navigating the trail.

As a grand finale to the event, Guide Dogs will host an exclusive art auction featuring the sculptures. This auction not only provides an opportunity for art enthusiasts to acquire one-of-a-kind pieces but the funds raised from the public auction will also contributes to Guide Dogs’ ongoing efforts to provide essential services and support to individuals with sight loss.

This remarkable event is made possible through the partnership with Wild in Art and the support of Citi. It will be hosted by Canary Wharf Group and Canal & River Trust.

Charlie Langhorne, Managing Director and Co-founder of Wild in Art, said: “Paws on the Wharf will bring colour and creativity to Canary Wharf, and I have no doubt that the guide dog sculptures will capture everyone’s imagination. The trail will be a great opportunity for people to take a stroll around Canary Wharf and experience some truly unique and inspiring artwork, while finding out more about the important work of Guide Dogs.”

Deborah Bourne, Director of Fundraising for Guide Dogs, said: “We’re so excited to be bringing our accessible art trail to Canary Wharf. Paws on the Wharf is a first for Guide Dogs and will be an artistic event that everyone can enjoy – truly inclusive and a shared experience for all. On selected days from March to May our amazing dogs and staff will be on hand to raise awareness of our mission and add even more colour to the spectacle. Thank you to the wonderful artists and sponsors who have made Paws on the Wharf possible and who have given us this unique platform to raise awareness about what we do and the importance of inclusivity, as well as the opportunity to raise funds by auctioning these incredible artworks.”

Paws on the Wharf will transform Canary Wharf into a captivating open-air art gallery, celebrating the remarkable journey of guide dogs and those they assist. For more information, and to keep up as news and events are announced, visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/pawsonthewharf or follow along on Instagram at @pawsonthewharf_guidedogs.