Couple add penguins to East Oxford's skyline in riposte to Bill Heine's Headington shark

Teddy Hutton and wife Nicola Russell with their penguins and polar bear sculpture, which they have erected on a wooden shed Picture: OX64916 Damian Halliwell

The Headington shark

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

HEADINGTON has its shark, and now East Oxford’s got penguins.

Sculptor Teddy Hutton crafted these little wooden birds as a riposte to his friend Bill Heine’s famous roof-top shark in Headington.

Mr Hutton and wife Nicola Russell, who share the house in Hill Top Road, also added a polar bear “chasing” the birds off the roof.

Ms Russell, who creates furniture out of cardboard, said: “It is a bi-polar bear, because penguins only live in the Antarctic and polar bears only live in the Arctic.”

Ms Russell also said in true Oxford fashion, the skyline scene has a Shakespearian joke hidden in it, paying homage to the stage instruction from The Winter’s Tale, “Exit, pursued by a bear”.

She joked: “One has to try to counter Bill Heine whenever one can. I think he would be highly in favour of our penguins.”

The sculpting couple installed the colourful cut-outs on their roof top in July, but since then their menagerie has continued to grow.

Friends and neighbours have helped to add to a swarm of sculpted snails which is taking over the garden.

Ms Russell said: “The snails are a community project, various local people have contributed.

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“We used to have a gallery, but now they have started to mount up all over the house. We are very nature-friendly here.”

The couple moved to the house in 2012, after spending 20 years running an artistic commune in France.

Mr Heine, who still owns the house with a shark on its roof in New High Street, but no longer lives there, said his friend’s flapping figures were “extraordinarily creative”.

The Oxford Mail columnist added: “I think it is quite witty and delightful. Teddy has done a really good job of it, he has a vast reputation and is well-respected, they are both very creative. If anybody was going to try this, I am delighted it was Teddy.”

The penguins join a topiary elephant in Radcliffe Road in East Oxford’s array of animal art.

Andrew Carter, of Hill Top Road, said: “On a dull, wet and miserable morning anything that brightens your day is a good thing, and the penguins have a real sense of humour and fun.

“Little kids really like the snails in the front as well.”

East Oxford city councillor Elise Benjamin said the penguins were “good fun”.

She said: “I enjoy the fun of it, the fact it brings an element of surprise to your walk down the street.

“We already have a lot of fun graffiti that is very humorous, I wouldn’t object to more animals – within reason.”

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