Aston University pre-bears to welcome X-ray Ed!

  • Aston Medical School joins Birmingham’s largest public art trail across the city and its surrounding areas
  • Thousands will visit city centre campus in Birmingham’s biggest-ever bear hunt
  • Medical school endorses campaign’s healthier lifestyle messages

Aston University is pre-bearing to welcome a most unusual visitor to its city centre campus next month – a 1.65 metre high Sun Bear, weighing in at 20kgs.

Sponsored by the university’s Aston Medical School, X-ray Ed is one of 100 bear sculptures across Birmingham and its surrounding regions that will be tracked down by thousands of participants in The Big Sleuth public art trail in aid of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.  

X-ray Ed arrives on campus in early July and will be nestled in a prime location close to vegetation and a water supply, in time for the launch of the trail on Monday 10 July.

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, said:

“We are fully behind this innovative initiative that will help to promote the health and wellbeing of our community, including tackling our high levels of childhood obesity and early onset diabetes.”

X-ray Ed has been designed by Birmingham-based artist Anne Guest and celebrates Birmingham’s place in the history of medical science with the pioneering work of radiographer John Hall-Edwards.

Born in Kings Norton, Dr Hall-Edwards worked at the Birmingham General Hospital and in 1896 was the first to use X-rays in surgery.

Anne explained that her previous career as a radiographer at Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic and Queen Elizabeth hospitals had inspired her design for X-ray Ed, she said:

“My interest in creating a health-related design stems from my background in medicine and healthcare. I also wanted to link the bear to Birmingham and to John Hall-Edwards’ work at the General Hospital which is now the home of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”

Anne chose a glossy monochrome palette for X-ray Ed, depicting parts of his bone structure and the contents of his stomach, including his favourite foods of bees, honey, figs, nuts and small lizards. 

A host of activities are being planned for X-ray Ed’s 10-week stay on campus and he will figure in graduation celebrations, a summer school for the medical school’s widening participation students and a teddy bears’ picnic for children at the university’s nursery. There will also be face painting sessions every Wednesday afternoon starting on 26 July for six weeks where young bear hunters can get an X-ray Ed themed motif painted on their face or hand for free by local artist Rowan Lennard. 

X-ray Ed has his own social media accounts and can be bear-friended on Facebook on and followed on Twitter @EdTheXRayBear.  

Elinor Eustace, Deputy Director of Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said:

“The Big Sleuth is really important to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity as we know it will encourage residents and tourists to get active, enjoy being outdoors and explore parts of the region they may not have been to before, We also hope to raise over half a million pounds to support the pioneering work we do here every day.”

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