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Over the past few weeks, hundreds of young people from our local primary and prep schools have been sending in designs for our #GiraffeAboutTown competition.

Merchiston is excited to be working with Edinburgh Zoo and creative producers Wild in Art to present Giraffe About Town – a large-scale public art event in Edinburgh in the summer of 2022.

Designed to celebrate Edinburgh’s extraordinary heritage and cultural diversity, the giraffes will be displayed for two months in locations across the capital, highlighting iconic spots and hidden gems from Edinburgh Airport to Leith. Merchiston is thrilled to get involved in this wonderful project, to continue our work to promote sustainability by supporting Edinburgh Zoo and RZSS in their vital efforts to protect animals that are at risk from extinction.

We can't wait to tell you about our own very special 8-foot giraffe that will be featured on the trail! What's more, it will be accompanied by two wee friends...

We welcomed children from our local Primary and Preparatory Schools to submit designs showing how they would paint and decorate one of the Zoo’s 4-foot giraffe sculptures. The artist who has painted our 8-foot sculpture, Pamela McMahon, went through hundreds of applications and chose Bonaly Primary School's Austin and Max, who designed 'Oscar' and Arya, Brigid, Imogen and Chloe who designed 'Layla'. Pamela says:

"When I was asked by Merchiston Castle to judge the children's Giraffe About Town designs I had no idea it would be quite so difficult. I was extremely impressed by the range of ideas and imagination shown in all the designs and it was quite a task to choose only two. The colours, shapes, details and humour in the designs were absolutely fantastic and everyone who entered a design should be very proud of their efforts.

In total, some 198 designs were submitted and after much deliberation, 24 were shortlisted from which the two winning designs were chosen. The lucky winners are:

'Oscar' by The Pog Frogs Team - Austin Denny and Max Hughes of Bonaly Primary School, P6 and

'Layla' by The Cupcake Candy Crew - Anya, Brigid, Imogen and Chloe, of Bonaly Primary School, P3

'Oscar' is a strong design that was chosen because of the clever use of hexagons or honeycomb shapes to represent the giraffe skin pattern and the fun use of colour on multicoloured socks and stripy ossicones.

'Layla' is an abstract design that was chosen because of the skilled and varied use of colour, shape, pattern and eye catching details, which together make an exciting and interesting design.

Congratulations to both teams on their skill and imagination. I can't wait to see the finished giraffes!"

The winners will work with our Art Department’s staff and students to turn their plan into a reality. After the project is complete, the giraffe will join Edinburgh Zoo's incredible wee herd trail in locations across Edinburgh for two months this summer. Then the young artists will receive their giraffe back at their school, complete with resources for their friends to learn about these beautiful animals and with a plan to create a habitat for their giraffe as a creative continuation of their work.

We can't wait to see their fantastic designs brought to life. Check back soon for photos...!

Kirsty Nicholls