Zürich Street Art 2005: the Year of the Teddy


In recent years, the Swiss city of Zürich has had a summer theme to draw attention to itself. In 1998 life-sized, fibreglass cows were dotted throughout its streets in an exhibition called Land in Sicht (the countryside in view). This street art was so popular that the cow-sculptures later visited other cities, including Edinburgh, Chicago, Denver, Lima and Perth Western Australia.

Not many people remembered that this was not the first time model animals had appeared in the streets of Zürich: back in 1986, painted lions, the symbol of Zürich, were spread around the city. In 2005 from 23 May to 18 September, over 600 teddy bears could be admired throughout Zürich city and at Zürich airport – the main sponsors.

Teddies, a firm favourite with all age groups and nationalities, are presented in a variety of shapes and sizes. Individually or in groups, in a variety of poses and all imaginatively decorated by various artists. Zürich’s reputation as a lively, stimulating city was underlined that year by the motto “I Love Teddies – I Love Zürich”.

Although Zürich was definitely the first city to fill its streets with animal statues, many others, especially in the USA and UK, adopted the idea – although some of their choices of animals were a bit bizarre: Aberdeen displayed 50 dolphins, Bath 100 pigs, while for Birmingham it was 89 owls. Bristol put out 61 model gorillas, and Copenhagen 100 baby elephants – surely the most appealing creatures after the Teddies.

The thirty-six Zürich teddy bears in my photos all were connected to some sponsoring business, usually near to their premises. See if you can use the decoration and colour of these to guess what the business was that was represented by each Ted. Here’s one to start you off: Number three, for example, with two bears wearing Chinese costumes, is probably sponsored by Chinese businesses in the city.
bear with label in french three bears on a street corner in Zurich, Switzerland  parent and child bears in chinese costume dark brown bear, Zurich 
white bear with penguin friend newspaper fashion pages bear  blue Zurich street teddy bear  bear wearing ladies’ underwear
all red bear with swiss watches dinner with wine, laid on bear  teddy rides on servant’s back  teddy bear pilot reflects the sky 
bears of the computer age teddies of the modern age, Paradeplatz, Zurich  part football culture, part patriotic bear  artistically painted teddy bear in blue 
teddy bear in tune with his environment swiss bear in theatrical eastern clothing  pink fluffy bear like a sea anemone  glass beads make bear sparkle 
two teddies performing circus tricks teddy bear with girls’ names written on it  a bear with a photo of the tour eiffel printed on it  bear with human and animal faces 
bear mother and child with a circus theme mother teddy and her baby all in yellow  bear restaurateur and tiny chef welcome you in  a fit looking teddy on the river bank in zurich 
a bear painted in four panels with facial parts a blue bear with a car bonnet on its front  a red and yellow bear dressed for the piste  Teddy Bear exhibiton Zurich 
mother bear, gold child and chef prepare food Sweden meets a much smaller swiss bears team  Teddy bears, Lake Zurich, Switzerland  bear painted in a surreal style 
nautical bear with telescope bear in striped jumper with logo  brown bear hides behind skeleton’s front  teddy bear in traditional historic costume, Zunft Saffran 
bear carrying ice bucket with book a blue bear balancing on a silver ball  brown teddy bear works out with weights  teddy bear wearing airline pilot’s uniform 
bear couple in old fashioned clothes hold pictures two brown teddy bears in blue modern dress  mum and girl bears in pretty painted dress  mother and child teddy bears in bright design 
bear dressed in jigsaw with missing pieces teddy bear dressed for sport wears safety net  unusual cross between pink elephant and bear  bear wearing track suit and trainers 
bear in shorts and sun hat heads for the sand teddy bear racing driver on the podium  teddy bear holding toy car in glass tube  bear chills out with tea in zurich street 
swiss chocolatier bear and lady customer bear with rucksack at the ferry port  surreal pair of bears tied with parcel tape  city workmen bears on the street corner 
white-faced bear wears shiny decoration teddy bear made of mirror glass mosaic  superhero teddy bear in spiderman costume, Zurich  bear dives in wetsuit with snorkel and mask 
yellow and black striped teddy bears in goggles young teddy bear wears superbear outfit  bear dressed in rambler’s clothes and boots  child bear in colourful top with smart father 
pink teddy bear wearing a sash and eyepatch bear in overalls building brick wall, Bahnhofstrasse Zurich  friendly bears from outer space pay us a visit  casually dressed teddy bear with one ski