Paws on the Wharf: new art trail celebrate guide dogs and their owners

Guide dog sculptures used by Paws on the Wharf. Pic: Guide Dogs 

The bond between guide dogs and the people they help is to be celebrated in a new art trail around Canary Wharf and other parts of Tower Hamlets.

The art trail, called, perhaps not coincidentally, ‘Paws on the Wharf’ aims to raise awareness about vision loss and/or impairment, while also focusing on the relationship between guide dogs, and their owners.

Paws on the Wharf will feature 25 guide dog sculptures, each of them uniquely created and painted by several artists, some of whom have vision impairment themselves. It will run from March 25 to May 17.

Hosted by Canary Wharf Group, and the Canal and River Trust, the trail aims to raise further awareness about sight loss, and the significance of guide dogs as a helping hand. Guide Dogs also hope through this initiative to promote inclusivity and accessibility for everyone.

Out of the 25 sculptures, 16 of them will be placed in Canary Wharf, while the other nine will be scattered around Tower Hamlets.

Alex Pepper, the Head of Accessibility for Guide Dogs, told Eastlondonlines: “We’re so excited to be bringing our accessible art trail to Canary Wharf. As advocates for inclusivity, we believe that every step along this art trail should not only showcase creativity but also drive awareness of accessibility for all. Through this accessible art exhibition, we aim to not only raise awareness about sight loss but also to champion the beauty of diversity and inclusion in our society. With innovative features like the NaviLens App and sighted guide tours, we ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully experience and appreciate the magic of this event.”

Guide Dogs also held a competition with several schools in Tower Hamlets to help raise awareness about inclusion. The competition included students from different schools within the borough collectively making a guide dog sculpture. The sculptures were judged by Jill Busby, a graphic designer based in Essex. The winning school, Ben Jonson Primary School, will have their sculpture displayed as part of the exhibit. 

Sculptures of guide dogs used in the trail. Pic: Guide Dogs 

Some of the other artists whose work will be exhibited during the trail include Angela Charles, Alex Devlin, Kevin Gavaghan, Sian Healey, and Clarke Reynolds.

The trail’s main aim is to be one of the most accessible for people with sight loss, as well as other forms of disabilities.

Some of the ways Paws on the Wharf is accommodating this is by making the entire trail step free. The art trail is completely free and the outdoor trail can be accessed 24/7.

Moreover, Paws on the Wharf has made it possible for people with sight loss to visit this trail by themselves, by making use of the latest technology such as the NaviLens App, or the NaviLens Code.

NaviLens provides its users with information about the sculptures, the artists and the sponsors.

For those who would prefer a guided tour, Guide Dogs is organising some on specific days to provide additional support, and a guide to the full trail is to follow in the near future.

When the event is over, Guide Dogs plan to host an exclusive auction with the sculptures, with all the money raised through the auction to go toward supporting individuals who are visually impaired. The event also presents itself as an opportunity for art enthusiasts to have a chance to purchase one-of-a-kind artwork.

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