Have you ever seen a cow with wings? Or wearing a cosy jumper?
Have you ever seen a cow in a shopping centre? Or donning mod boots to join its favourite band on stage?
If the answer’s no, then get along to Londonderry which is being transformed into a virtual meadow for the arrival of a global public art phenomenon called CowParade.
CowParade — which sees life-size fibre-glass cows decorated by local artists and displayed in various public locations — will be put out to pasture in the north west this week with a 50-plus herd of colourful and creative cattle. The quirky initiative will then expand to other parts of Northern Ireland over the coming months.
This is the first time the world-famous art event has been held across a large region and the first of the bovine masterpieces will go on show in Derry later this week.
Several other herds will be unveiled later this summer, including a large one in Belfast, while others will show up at towns and landmarks in between.
The Belfast Telegraph on Monday got a sneak peek at some 15 of the life-sized cows and six ‘mini-moo’ calves which will be dotted across Derry.
Artists have been inspired by their city, using everything from Derry’s shirt factory heritage to Amelia Earhart as their subject. Among the locations providing a home to the visitors is Foyleside shopping centre, where a Jersey cow will be placed, sporting a nice jersey, of course.
And the undoubted rockstar of the Derry herd is The Undertones cow, resplendent with gold hoop earring and four mod boots on its feet. It will be stationed at the top of the shopping centre, but before that, the cow looks set to join the band on stage as they headline the outdoor Clipper Homecoming Festival Legenderry concert on Thursday.
Another is the pillar box red and very glamorous Amelia Earhart cow, proving that is not just pigs that might fly with her own set of wings and aviation headgear and goggles to commemorate the American aviator’s arrival into Derry 80 years ago. Other cows celebrate the women of Derry and the once booming shirt-making industry they created.
After the parade, Derry will get to keep five of its cows, while the mini-moos will be returned to schools and community groups which created them.
The rest will be auctioned off for charity, with the proceeds being split between Barnardo’s and DePaul Ireland, which runs the Foyle Haven.
Deirdre Harte from Derry City Council said: “These were just blank white cows when the artists started working and it has been lovely to watch their progress.
“They look fantastic and they have sparked a lot of interest already before they are even put out.”
The CowParade originated in Switzerland and first went on display in Zurich in 1999. It has since then been staged in 75 cities across the world, with over 2,500 cows created to date. The highest selling cow at charity auction was a Waterford Crystal mosaic by John Rocha which went for €125,000 at the CowParade in Dublin in 2003.
The cows weigh on average around nine stone each and are held in place by a concrete base weighing a further 19 stone.