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Suffolk Craft Society Summer Exhibition © Dennis Hales

Must see sculptures and art trails in Suffolk

June sees the annual opening of many artists' creative hideaways under the banner of Suffolk Open Studios. Throughout the month you get the opportunity to see behind the scenes and discover the processes that go into some of the amazing art created in the County.

Whilst on your travels, there is a chance to see Elmer, the famous patchwork elephant on parade.  And, we've picked out some must see quirky and inspirational sculptures.  These depict some of the historical events and characters associated with Suffolk.  


Several art trails have been established to link artists who are showcasing their work with Suffolk Open Studios. The Earth, Fire and Light trail in Felixstowe, includes four artists whose creations include Raku fired ceramic sculptures, glass art inspired by the Suffolk landscape, pine needle weaving on ceramics and stained glass art with a difference.  You can decide which trail to take at Open Studios Artist Trails.
What else is there to see and do? If you have been inspired by what you have seen in the studios, there is an opportunity to participate. Lilac Cottage Studio, a peaceful haven in the vibrant village of Rickinghall is in the rural idyll of Suffolk.  Here is the studio home of Sue, a Curator and Art Historian. No matter whether you are a beginner or an expert, you can join a course in art lessons taught by some of the best artists Sue has had the opportunity to work alongside.   
image of artist at Lilac Cottage StudioArtist at Lilac Cottage Studio


Elmer, the famous patchwork elephant is coming to Ipswich.  From 15 June 2019, 55 beautifully painted, unique Elmer sculptures will be brightening up the parks and open spaces of Ipswich town centre and waterfront as part of Elmer’s Big Parade Suffolk, St Elizabeth Hospice’s latest art trail.

All the large sculptures have been individually designed and created by artists from across the UK but particularly exciting is that 17 are from Suffolk alone, showcasing and celebrating the artistic talent in this area.

There will also be the Learning Herd; 84 young Elmer sculptures decorated by local schools and youth organisations, which will be displayed in their herds across the town. Elmer promotes positive messages about inclusivity, courage and friendship and it is hoped these herds of ‘young Elmers’ will help to create a sense of unity among the young people of Suffolk.

You will be able to see all of the sculptures ‘on parade’ until Saturday 7 September, before they head for a grand acution in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice. 

Throughout the summer, Elmer HQ is open in Gallery 2 of Ipswich Town Hall.  Here you can pick up your trail map and visit the parade pop up shop, selling all things Elmer!

image of Elmer outside Christchurch Mansion IpswichElmer outside Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich


At the same time as seeing the Elmer sculptures, take a stroll to Giles Circus.  Here the famous Ipswich cartoonist Carl Giles is honoured with a bronze statue of one of his favourite characters, Grandma.  Here she sits looking up to the offices where Giles used to work.

Each week Carl Giles drew topical cartoons and comic strips for the Daily Express and Sunday Express.  These often included characters from his fictional 'Giles Family' of which the Grandma was the most popular character. 

What else is there to see and do? The beautiful Tudor Christchurch Mansion sits in the centre of Ipswich within gardens and parkland.  It houses a fine selection of art from Suffolk artists, including an incredible collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings.

The Giles Statue in Ipswich, SuffolkGrandma in Ipswich


Heading west across the County to Bury St Edmunds, sculptures of a more historical note can be seen.  At almost every roundabout or junction you will see a sculpture bringing to life the history of this medieval town.

On one of the towns central roundabouts is the dramatic steel figure of St Edmund, the first Patron Saint of England.  Here he stands proud, with arrows through his heart and body.

St Edmund was an Anglo-Saxon King who ruled East Anglia before he was killed by Viking raiders for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.

Other sculuptures which nod to St Edmund include a wooden carved 'howling' wolf and a crown of bronze coloured lattice work made of steel and willows. 

What else is there to see and do? Delve into the fascinating story of St Edmund and discover the location of the sculptures in Bury St Edmunds and Beyond.  Immerse yourself further into the history of the town with a visit to the Cathedral and Bury St Edmunds Abbey and award winning gardens.

Image of St Edmund at his martyrdomThe Statue of St Edmund at his martyrdom

Know something we don't?

We have only just scratched the surface here and we know there are many more trails and sculptures to see in Suffolk. Let us know which are your favourites via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.