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Barking Blondes: The Brits, SANE and Adam Ant

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking 300x225 Barking Blondes: The Brits, SANE and Adam AntWe were invited to the coveted Brits after party on Wednesday night, not for our services to music, more for our enthusiasm for dogs. Regular readers of this blog will know that even the coolest crooner or pop princess is eager to discuss their canine’s antics with us and so, it seems, does the music industry by sending invites to the biggest thrash at a secret location.

Knowing we would have to fork out for a cab back in the early hours, we decided to walk there as an attempt to cut costs. Tottering through Soho Square, even amidst the lingering media types, we couldn’t miss the giant sculpture of a black dog, centre stage on the grass. It demands to be patted.

This stunning piece of dog art belongs to a pack celebrating ‘Year of the Black Dog’, a campaign launched by the mental health charity SANE to help reduce the stigma surrounding depression.

The striking Black Dog sculptures have become an icon or symbol for SANE’s campaign as black dogs have been used as a metaphor for depression for thousands of years. From Classical mythology through medieval folklore to modern times, black dogs have been associated with dark thoughts, moods and omen. Sir Winston Churchill famously used the phrase ‘Black Dog’ to describe his darker moods during World War 2.

SANE’s Black Dogs are not dotted just around London but nationally in all major cities. They offer an ironic view of man’s best friend. We are familiar with dogs that guide the blind or hearing dogs for the deaf, or dogs for the disabled, and Pets as Therapy dogs that calm and soothe residents in hospices and care homes. Now, by representing depression and mental health, these dog sculptures are helping to draw attention to an otherwise invisible problem, and indirectly help thousands of people in true ‘man’s best friend’ style.

Adam Ant is among the celebrities backing the project along with Joanna Lumley and many others. The pop star apparently took time out from his tour to unveil the coat he designed for a Black Dog sculpture that was named Elvis, after one of own pet dogs. Adam Ant’s enthusiasm for the Black Dog project mirrors SANE’s attempt to combat preconceptions surrounding mental health in a new exciting way with ‘man’s best friend’ symbolically leading the way.

Twice the size of a giant Great Dane, the Black Dogs are enormously tactile. Cutting a striking pose, every Black Dog wears a SANE ‘Collar of Hope’ and a coat designed by a celebrity, artist or someone who has experienced a mental health problem.

Just as the World Wildlife Fund’s ‘Elephant Parade’ used life-sized baby elephant sculptures around the capital to raise awareness of the endangered Asian Elephant, similarly SANE’s Black Dogs are individually marked and will also be auctioned to build the campaign fund. Let’s hope these stunning artworks get the homes they deserve.

Oh… and gossip from the Brits after party. It seems we are every muso’s confidantes when it comes to choosing a puppy. Being introduced as “the dog women” as opposed to representing a record label really did carry kudos. So watch this space. The kid you may have seen grabbing an award and djing at the after party is soon to get a Belgium Shepherd. After shouting the pros and cons of his choice across the seated Mumford and Sons, we pray it doesn’t destroy his trainers.

For more information about SANE visit www.sane.org.uk

For more information about the Black Dog campaign click here

‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 3-4pm on BBC London 94.9fm

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  • Highlanderclan

    After all these years, now I understand the name of Led Zep’s “Black Dog”.


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