Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä's city foxes for her Wild in the City project in London's east end

Tally-ho! Alex and Oli go fox hunting at The London Design Festival

30 Sep 2015

2 min read

Ever since I heard about Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä's 'Wild in the City' ceramic bunny hunt in Helsinki, I've loved the idea of an urban treasure hunt for a piece of art. So, when I discovered the artist would be hiding 60 life-size ceramic foxes as part of this year’s London Design Festival, I was really excited. Particularly as foxes happen to be one of my favourite animals.

When the hunt began, Heikkilä revealed via Instagram that she had hidden the first 20 foxes around Hackney - home to none other than 999's London studio. Thinking we could be in with a chance, Oli and I scrutinised each image and eventually recognised a building from a local park. Motivated by the prospect of finding a fox, we raced over at lunch-time and looked everywhere - in bushes, around hidden corners and in bins, but found nothing.

We then spied the landmark Eagle building in one of Heikkilä's images so we headed to the main road and circled the whole block - looking behind cars, bins and alleys but, again, we found nothing. Disappointed, we turned our attention to the more mundane task of getting some lunch. As Oli was paying for his food, I recognised the City Road Basin and told Oli to hurry so we could get there quickly. We jogged all the way down the road and finally met a strange white figure in a planted bush. To our delight, we had found one of the 60 foxes! He was named ‘Iggy’ and inscribed #11/60 in the base. We were so happy we almost skipped back to work, excited to share our foxy find with the team.

Alex and Oli with their urban foxes in London's City Road basin

Back at the studio, I realised I'd caught a serious case of the fox-hunting bug. Jumping back onto Instagram, I checked for more spots that I might recognise. One of the pictures reminded me of Arnold Circus, just north of Box Park in Shoreditch. This was in the opposite direction from where we had been earlier, so I dashed over and started looking for any signs of a fox. I was almost all the way round when I suddenly spotted another ceramic creature hiding in the bushes. The only problem was that it was trapped behind a fence! Not to be thwarted, I noticed there was shorter fence further up that I could jump over so I made my way up and over to claim my second fox - number #51/60 named ‘Ilmari’.

Ceramic fox hiding behind a fence in Shoreditch

Needless to say, we were supremely chuffed with ourselves for finding two of the 60 hidden foxes. With our mission complete, we were happy to call the hunt off and post a few 999 Instagram updates to show off our spoils. However, while riding home on my motorbike I was stunned to spot a third fox - looking straight at me from the roundabout on Victoria Park Road. Naturally, I couldn't resist pulling over for a photo.

At first I wasn't going to take the fox as we already had two, but then I thought that it would be really cool to have one of my own at home. So I collected fox number #6/60 named ‘Jack’.

Ceramic fox sitting on the roundabout on London's Victoria Park Road

Now Oli and I have a fox each, and one that will remain in the 999 Design studio, standing guard on the bookshelf.

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