The Awakening 2023

“Fantastic craft idea for all the family.” - festival attendee


After the success of last year’s Awakening, we excitedly anticipated returning to our neighbouring city of Hull for the annual Freedom Festival. In 2022, Steve designed the Freedom Fox Mask specifically for the first Awakening, which is an inspiring and vibrant arts festival and cultural gathering to celebrate the coming Spring. Well over a thousand foxes were made and paraded around the city centre amongst an incredible atmosphere of installations by artists from all over the world. To explore the festival in more detail read our previous feature here.



The Awakening 2023 presented some exciting new design opportunities. To build an inspiring futuristic Fox Mask, one must do so in an inspiring workshop environment. Never one to do things by half measures, Steve set out with some of the installation skills he gained designing GRUE over the last few years and decided to design and build a massive Owl with a wingspan of 3.3 meters. Every Owl needs a nest, so in the Wintercroft spirit of re-use and re-purposing of waste materials, we made a nest two meters tall and four meters wide to complement the mighty woodland creature.




Our brief for 2023 was to decorate a large tipi space, where one side of the mask workshop was exposed to the elements. It was important to maximise floor space so that builders wouldn’t be in the damp open air, so to achieve high visual impact without intruding on the workshop, a winged creature suspended from the ceiling made perfect sense. The height of the tipi was used to our advantage to achieve this. In the image above, you see our good friend Matt Jones, who's expert carpentry skills and creative drive have proved invaluable to our installation projects.




To avoid heavy objects falling on the builders, the Owl was made from a lightweight plywood frame clad in reclaimed cardboard that was sourced from local waste materials businesses. Steve also cleverly designed the owls with removable wings for transport and to ensure that they could be assembled, installed and taken down by just two people.


“I thought the mask was a really cool idea. It wasn’t super tricky and it looks AWESOME!” - Fox Builder


"5050 masks were distributed during The Awakening this year, with a further 30,000 going out to every primary school pupil in Hull and every library and children’s centre in the city. There were 1,682 participants in Freedom Fox workshops: both in the Fox Den during The Awakening, and in museums, art galleries and libraries in Hull in the run up to the event. 65% of people surveyed at these workshops did not attend The Awakening last year, and 100% planned to do so this year." - Beth Murrell, Engagement Producer. 


 “Making the mask made me feel super happy – I laughed a lot while making it”. - Happy Builder

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Arran for his awesome photos and Beth Murrell from Freedom Fest for her incredible help along the way in both supporting the workshops and reporting the feedback after the event. It was a fantastic experience facilitated by the amazing volunteers who helped run the workshops and of course, the incredible communities that came together to make The Awakening 2023 so special. We can't wait for next year's festivities and urge all in the area to come join the fun in 2024.


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