top of page

Interview with Making Trails

By Tom Lawson, Development Associate

We were fortunate to sit down with Tilley Bancroft from the Making Trails team and talk to her about the upcoming Big Burton Carousel sculpture trail.

How did you start Making Trails?

I think was the first notion that it would be a good idea to do a trail in Burton Upon Trent. This is where I’ve always had a business. I've been in video marketing animation since 2007, so myself and a team of really wonderful creative people got together to make the whole idea of bringing arts into very public spaces a reality in Burton. We teamed up with our first charity partner and that project through blood, sweat and tears was a real success.

So Making Trails was born. Burton Swans was definitely our testing ground so we could kind of prove the concept worked.

Always at the heart of everything we wanted to do was, bring together community business and the creative community, so artists and a charity. From there it's grown, we're now on our third trail,

What was behind your decision to pick Burton and District Mind?

For us it made complete sense. Like we knew that with all the hardships that our community because Burtons where we grew up, its where we have our premises now you know. Burton's our hometown. And we knew that the community was really suffering as everybody is at the moment with just trying to get to grips with life now, as we’re still sort of towards the backend of the pandemic. We're not really out of it yet. We knew the importance of what Burton and District Mind do for the community, how vital their services are. And we wanted to support them in any way we could.

So I called up Keri, oh gosh, a year ago, maybe a bit longer and said so we're doing another trail in Burton and we'd like you guys to be a part of it. And he was just ecstatically happy. So that was a good reaction.

Why Carousel Horses?

That's the wonderful Elaine Pritchard who was our copywriter. So Elaine is probably one of the most creative people I've ever met. She’s one of those people who just sniffs out story so she'd been chatting with some people she knows locally who actually are descendants of some of the original carousel horse artists.

That's where she discovered about Alton and Spooner, who are a world renowned fairground and caravan manufacturing company but Burtonians don't really know much about. So it's this really niche interesting piece of local heritage that nobody around here knows about. It's actually more well-known in America.

I'm trying to find that local story, that local piece of interest. And let's be honest, carousel horses are just so beautiful. They're so elegant. It sort of evokes that sense of, being a child. Visually they're so inspiring and interesting for a creative to get their hands on a blank, carousel horse, I'm a creative myself so I'm very excited about getting to paint one.

What has the community response been?

Now we're in a lucky position. When we were trying to convince the local community and some of the local businesses to sponsor the Burton Swans it was a lot more difficult than it's been this time around, because this time around, we can say, Hey, do you remember the Burton Swans project? We're doing that again in a different way. So people are automatically engaged. So this time round, it's been really exciting to see how quickly people are motivated to get involved.

That's everything from local businesses through to the local community. For the launch event itself we're teaming up with the brew house art centre to do The Big Burton Jubilee, a joint Jubilee and trail launch event on the 3rd of June.

And very quickly within like the space of about 48 hours we've got like about 500 people to the event on Facebook saying, oh, we're interested, you know? So it was the very quick sort of snowball. So yeah. So this time around it's been easier because I think they’re so aware and so excited to have been involved in the last one that they want it to happen again.

With how successful the last one was, what have been your goals for this trail been?

Well, I always say that if we're going to do a trail again, we've got to make it better in some way. So first of all we've made the trail itself physically bigger by which I mean, there are more sculptures.

We’ve got 30 carousel horses rather than 25. And that number just comes up all over the place. It's Burton and District mind's 30th anniversary. It's the Brewhouse Art Centre’s 30th anniversary as well. So it all just tied in, in this beautiful way. So we're making it bigger in that way, and we're also using a different material now. The carousel horses themselves are made out of recycled reformed plastic, which is really great.

We're also working with more local artists this time as well, so those are a lot of the aims that we had and we've managed to hit them. And then when it comes to the auction at the end, who knows. We've got nothing really to base it off because last time we did one, it was online whereas this auction for this project is going to be in real life,

How has the preparation been going so far?

Really fun! It’s really lovely to be able to see the artists at work. The lady who came in earlier on that's Lynne and she's an award winning artist. She’s coming in here to paint her two carousel horses that she's doing.

As the day’s tick on, uh, we're getting closer and closer to the point where we're going to install them. It’s just really exciting. They are very different, it's a really exciting range of pieces as well. I think it's certainly the most varied artistically trail that we've ever done, which is exactly what you want. You want something that's really different and there's something for everybody.

How can people get involved?

So there's a couple of different ways. So if you're a business and want to sponsor a horse, we still got a few, but not many now that are unsponsored. So if you want to get involved that way you can do, you can either sponsor a horse as an individual business or as a group of up to four businesses.

If you're a school or a community group and you want to do a mini carousel horse, and have an artist come into your school, you can still get involved with that project. That's going to be going right the way until the end of the academic year. So there is still plenty to get involved in with that. And if you just want to come along and enjoy the trail, you can do that as well!

I certainly recommend anybody who's about on the week of the third and 4th of June, to pop down to Stapenhill Gardens. There's an awful lot going on. There's live performers. There's musicians, there's street performers. There's a little market place. There's a balloon guy. There's an actual real life carousel. Hooray! There’s loads going on. It's going to be an absolutely lovely event and so yeah do pop down!

When is the official launch going to be for the trail?

The 3rd and 4th of June so it will coincide with the Queens Jubilee as well.

Thank you for talking with us, Tilley, we really truly grateful and proud to have been selected for this year’s trail. It has been an amazing opportunity and we really can’t wait to see the launch!

For more information on the trail you can find that here:

Hopefully see you at the launch, the Facebook event is linked below:


bottom of page