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WATCH: Martin House marks 30th anniversary with inflatable artwork

WATCH: Martin House marks 30th anniversary with inflatable artwork

Published at 1:12pm 14th August 2017.

A charity which supports Yorkshire youngsters with life-limiting conditions has unveiled an innovative artwork to mark its 30th anniversary.

Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People commissioned the inflatable sculpture called The Butterfly and The Bird, which is designed to be an interactive and multi-use space.

The project was the brainchild of Alison Wragg, Senior Community Fundraiser at Martin House.

She said: "I wanted something that would be eye-catching and invite conversation, and I had seen how much people engaged with outside art during the Tour de France Grand Départ, so I wondered if we could do something on a large scale."

Yorkshire Sculpture Park put Martin House in touch with Sheffield-based artist Sarah Jane Palmer who came up with the idea of an inflatable sculpture and animation.

Alison added: "Martin House was originally named for the house martins which nested in the roof eaves, and the symbol of the children's hospice movement is the butterfly.

"One of Sarah's motifs is the butterfly, so there was an instant synergy. Working with Sarah has been a pleasure; she understood immediately what we wanted to achieve and came up with practical and inspirational ideas."

Sarah worked with Martin House artist Helen Scouller, children, young people and their families to develop the overall concept of the inflatable artwork, which has been made by Spacecadets Air Design in Todmorden.

She and Martin House community fundraisers then held workshops at nine schools across Yorkshire to create a butterfly animation which will be projected inside the sculpture.

Pupils coloured and decorated individual butterfly outlines, which Sarah then photographed and turned into an animation which can be used alongside the inflatable or independently.

Sarah said: "Martin House wanted something that could be a sculpture, but something that would also raise awareness and could be taken into the community. I immediately thought of an inflatable structure, because it is portable and has multiple uses.

"The animation is a really simple way of bringing pupils together. Each child has their own piece of artwork, and each one is different, but they come together to make up the whole.

"It became very much a collaboration between Martin House families and pupils, with me as an artist facilitating that. It felt really important that it wasn't so much an artist commission, but a collaboration between everybody.

"I feel very honoured to be a part of the project, it's been amazing from the beginning and everyone I have met at Martin House has been fantastic. I feel I have done something really worthwhile."

See the official launch of the inflatable scultpure:


Martin House opened in August 1987 and provides care and support to children and young people with life-limiting conditions throughout West, North and East Yorkshire, at its Boston Spa hospice, in hospitals and in their own homes.

In the last 30 years, the charity has cared for more than 2,000 families.

The inflatable will be used for events at Martin House and across Yorkshire, including Yarndale in Skipton.

Alison said: "It's a mobile, useable space, which can be an art gallery, a storytelling place, a creative space, a performance area and den - all sorts of things.

"We hope it will raise awareness, prompt curiosity and dispel myths about children's hospices, and will be something we can use for many years to come."

More information about the charity at