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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Cows moo-ve in to London
The cows are likely to be found grazing around the capital

A colourful invasion of fibreglass cows is set to have bemused Londoners rubbing their eyes this summer, as an exhibition of bovine sculpture comes to the capital's streets.

CowParade London was originally planned to hit the city in 2001 as part of an ongoing public art event that claims to be the world's largest.

But the foot-and-mouth crisis - and the consequent mass slaughter of farm animals - meant the exhibition had to be postponed.

Organisers are confident however that recent poor cow press in Britain won't affect the parade's popularity.

Celebrities have been involved in decorating the cows
More than 150 life-size animals, decorated in a multitude of styles ranging from chic to the unrestrainedly surreal, will adorn public places for several months.

The cows come with true international pedigree, as parades have already been a success in cities worldwide, including New York, Montevideo and Sydney.

"It's a light-hearted and whimsical exhibition that will bring a smile to the faces of even the most jaded London resident," according to the event's European managing director, Charles Langhorne.

"Cow Parade does not claim to be high art, but it is art for the masses."

A bovine Beefeater
A selection of teaser cows was enthusiastically received at various landmarks in the capital in early 2002.

The summer months will see the arrival of the complete herd, and Langhorne's optimism will be put to the test as cynical Londoners and commuters come face to face with the animals.

The concept of putting brightly-coloured cows onto city streets, office lobbies and even underground stations is the brainchild of Swiss-born artist Walter Knapp.

He set up the first Cow Parade in 1998 in his home town of Zurich with a rather amazing 800 cows. The herd in the London event will be smaller, but every bit as colourful.

The parade begins on 18 June
Knapp's son Pascal designed the original cow models, which come in a variety of poses including trotting, grazing, resting and, in one particularly fanciful New York design, taking to the skies on giant wings.

Decoration is provided by local artists, schoolchildren, members of the public and celebrities.

Among the luminaries who submitted ideas for the London parade are television's home makeover guru Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen and former England footballer Graeme Le Saux.

Indeed, celebrity has been something of a theme in earlier cow parades, with bovine homages to the rich and famous including Boris Cowloff, Paul MooCartney, and Gladiator: Russell Cow.


But there is nothing frivolous about the event.

It will raise money for Childline and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution when almost half of the sculptures are auctioned by Sotheby's later in the year.

The cows' value as an educational tool is also an important element.

"One of the primary objectives of CowParade is to foster art and art programmes in the schools", said CowParade Holdings Corporation President Jerry Elbaum.

He offered his own theories as to the universal and enduring popularity of cows.

"The cow is an animal we all love," he said.

"One of the first words most of us say in our infancy is 'moo'".

The parade officially begins in London on 18 June.

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