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Bus, rail, and the unicorn trail with Severnside CRP

Magic was in the air at Bristol Temple Meads Station last weekend as Severnside Community Rail Partnership (CRP) proudly unveiled the ‘Time Travelling Odyssey 2187’ statue as part of Bristol Unicornfest 2023.

Designed and decorated by local artist Alpha Wilson, the statue is generously sponsored by CrossCountry trains, GWR, and Community Rail Network. It is one of 60 life-sized unicorn sculptures individually painted by some of the South West’s leading artists to create a unique, family-friendly trail that celebrates the magic and beauty of unicorns.

Although the main blessing (the collective noun for multiple unicorns) is to be found in central Bristol, some statues are located as far away as Cheddar Gorge, Weston-Super-Mare Pier, and the West Country Water Park in Bradley Stoke.

Severnside CRP, with help from GWR and First Bus, has created a map to illustrate car-free ways of reaching all 60 unicorns, encouraging journeys by train, bus, ferry, cycling, and trying the new demand-responsive service WESTlink. The map is available to download here.

Once the trail has concluded, all the statues will be gathered at Propyard for a final farewell weekend, before being sent to auction in early October to raise money for Leukaemia Care, the UK’s leading charity providing care and support to individuals, families, and friends affected by leukaemia and associated conditions.

Artist Alpha Wilson said: “The name ‘Time Travelling Odyssey’ is interwoven with the themes of speed and travel. This digital collage reconstructs Bristol through my unique perspective, providing a glimpse into the landscape and culture of my hometown.

“By incorporating iconic Bristol landmarks that no longer exist, this art becomes a time capsule of my past experiences. With a focus on Bristol’s patchwork architecture and vibrant street art, it expresses past, present, and a possible future. ‘Odyssey’ suggests an epic adventure that explores magical journeys through space and time.”

Heather Cullimore, Severnside CRP Manager, said: “We are excited to be a part of this wonderful event and help bring the community together to celebrate art, creativity, and imagination. Severnside CRP believes events like the Unicornfest Art Trail play an important role in promoting local culture and creativity. We are proud to support this initiative and to present a map illustrating how the trail can be achieved using sustainable transport.”

Paul Webster, Support and Development Manager at Community Rail Network, said: “Offering fun and unusual ways to explore local destinations and tourist attractions using rail and public transport is an important step to help reduce car use, so we are pleased to be able to support Severnside CRP with this project through the Community Rail Development Fund.

“We look forward to seeing pictures and hearing stories of how visitors to the art trail have explored Bristol and the surrounding areas by train, bus, and boat this summer, using the Unicornfest map.”

Alex Hills, GWR Flagship Station Manager, said: “The unicorn is certainly a striking new addition to Bristol Temple Meads, and I’ve seen plenty of customers posing for pictures alongside it.

“We’re pleased to have partnered with Severnside CRP and First Bus to help create a map celebrating car-free ways of reaching all 60 unicorns – this is another brilliant example of the work the CRP does to support and make sustainable improvements to the local community and economy.”

The Unicornfest Art Trail runs from 1 July to early September and is free to visitors, who are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using #TheUnicornfest.