Shaun’s Big Brighton Adventure

This piece has been written by Martlets Volunteer Jill Cochrane

It’s a well-known fact that Shaun the Sheep is prone to mischief and gets up to all sorts of adventures with his flock. His latest escapade was in Brighton where Shaun was spotted leaping over the garden fence belonging to city resident and illustrator George Fox. 

 This was only the start of Shaun and George’s adventure together as George worked on creating his ewenique Shaun the Sheep sculpture.  


Enter Martlets ambassador Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim) who’s a fan of George Fox’s work, so a natural pairing for this year’s Shaun by the Sea. It’s not the first time the two have collaborated. You may have seen George’s work featured on Norman’s Big Beach Cafe range of reusable coffee tins.

Brighton’s Beating Heart

George Fox’s career as an illustrator is steeped in celebrating the city in different ways.

“My personal journey as an illustrator started with what is an ongoing project called Brighton’s Beating Heart, a series of illustrations celebrating different aspects of the city – its culture, sport, diversity, the beach, its music, theatre, the South Downs. I’d describe my work as Heath Robinson meets Arthur Rackham meets 21st century.

I create fantasy worlds, sea beasts, morphing animals (and more) all captured in fantastically intricate machines and nonsense inventions inspired by engineering and storytelling. I build incredibly intricate illustrative journeys which are both realistic and imagined.”

George Fox creates his sculpture

Artist George Fox creates his detailed sculpture

Inside out

It’s this personal project that has shaped George’s signature illustrative style which is wholly reflected in how he’s tackled his design for Shaun.

“Our collaborative design tells a story of the city and shows the journey of a little Shaun inside out. Imagine the inner workings of the sheep, both real elements (heart, ribs) and mechanical (cogs, levers). I’ve created a unique work incorporating 400 facts about the city, Norman, myself, Shaun of course, as well as Aardman, his creator. If you take time to look at the detail, there’s lots to discover.”

Beyond the Martlets’ Art Trail you can spot George Fox’s work in several different locations in the city, including one at the Amex Community Stadium after he was commissioned by Brighton & Hove Albion. This led on to other works for the Lawn Tennis Association, Kia Oval and Williams Formula 1 to mention a few. And excitingly, George is currently commissioned to create artwork for the 2024 Olympics.

George adds: “I’m so proud to live in this city, and irrespective of what I do as an artist, I’m always drawn back to Brighton. In this design I’ve incorporated landmarks like the old pier amongst others and there’s a silhouette of Fatboy Slim too. Together Norman and I have married the city, music, art and charity.”

It’s fitting then that both George and Norman have sealed their collaboration by signing their names on Shaun’s left rump. Yes, you herd it right here, right now!

“As a local resident, I’ve been aware of Martlets and its work since I arrived. Some great friends of mine had their lives turned upside down when they lost a loved one. This made me even more aware of the brilliant work they do here. I didn’t hesitate to get involved.”

All’s wool that ends wool

You might be wondering how Shaun’s adventure ended. It seems the escape route out of George’s garden was a little different to the way in. In the 200 plus hours it took George to complete his Shaun, a new housing development was finished and conveniently blocked the planned exit route. Luckily George’s neighbour was on hand.

Shaun was roped over the neighbour’s fence and into the passageway between their two houses. Luckily, he escaped unscathed, and his woolly adventure ended at Martlets’ artist studio where Shaun was reunited with this flock.

George Fox’s Shaun sculpture is sponsored by The Big Beach Cafe.

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