Chris Leaper - The artist behind the Kirklees Rocket

Meet the local West Yorkshire artist sponsored by TransPennine Express

TransPennine Express (TPE) is giving local people the chance to get to know the artist behind the newest addition to the Snowdog trail.

Chris Leaper, also known as Jesmond Cat Designs, is an illustrator who uses traditional media for his designs. He has worked on children’s books, calendars, and now his latest project the ‘Kirklees Rocket’ Snowdog.

When asked for the inspiration behind his design, Chris said: “I wanted to pay homage to the expansive railway links that connect our borough with the rest of the UK.

“The Kirklees Rocket features a train-like construction with metal plates and rivets, similar to an old-fashioned steam locomotive”.

Organised by The Kirkwood, in partnership with Wild in Art and Snowman Enterprises Ltd, Snowdogs Support Life, Kirklees is inspired by the much-loved animated film, The Snowman™ and The Snowdog, the sequel to Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book and film The Snowman™. 

When asked what motivated him to enter a design, Chris said: “I saw the art trail as a way to push myself out of my comfort zone, this is my first attempt at painting a 3D sculpture.

“Having worked solitary for a while, I also saw this as a great opportunity to interact with and work alongside other artists and creatives.

“I’ve also previously collaborated with TPE on designing artwork for the Huddersfield station cats, Felix and Bolt. I hoped for another opportunity to create together.”

The trail will cover key calling points on the TPE network including Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley and Slaithwaite. Chris added: “My wife and I don’t drive so rail travel and the TPE services are essential to take us to our favourite places.

“I can’t wait for the trail to open and for people across the UK to have the opportunity to see what West Yorkshire has to offer!”

Snowdogs Support Life, Kirklees officially launches to the public on September 2nd and will run for eight weeks. The art trail is set to be the largest free event of its kind to ever come to West Yorkshire.

Notes to editors

About Snowdogs Support Life, Kirklees

Organised by The Kirkwood in partnership with Wild in Art and Snowman Enterprises Ltd, Snowdogs Support Life, Kirklees will be a free large scale art event and will show off the very best creative talent from local, regional and national artists. As part of this one-of-a-kind public art event in West Yorkshire, businesses are being given the opportunity to sponsor one of the individually designed Snowdog sculptures. This presents businesses with a unique and exciting way to promote their business throughout the local area.

The trail will help raise awareness and essential funds for The Kirkwood as they continue their work to help and support those living with a life limiting illness in Kirklees, while encouraging visitors from far and wide to explore new parts of our region.


About The World of The Snowman™


Originally published in 1978, The Snowman was created and illustrated as a wordless picture book by Raymond Briggs.  Beautifully illustrated with pencil and crayon, the story follows a boy, James, who builds a snowman in his garden one winter’s day. That night, an unforgettable adventure begins when The Snowman comes to life.

Producer, John Coates convinced Raymond to allow him to animate this magical story and the animation launched on Channel 4 in its inaugural year in 1982.  The film was a huge success, earning an Academy Award nomination and winning a BAFTA TV award.   It has been repeated every Christmas on Channel 4 in the 40 years since. 

Ten years ago this year, the highly-anticipated sequel, created with Raymond Briggs’ approval, was announced.  The Snowman and The Snowdog premiered on Channel 4 on 24th December 2012 and was seen by over 10 million viewers over that festive period. The Snowman and The Snowdog takes place in the same house that features in The Snowman and tells the story of a boy, Billy, who discovers a snowman-making kit hidden under the floorboards of his new home on Christmas Eve. Billy builds a snowman and, with a little leftover snow, a snowdog. As the clock strikes midnight, the two come to life and Billy joins them on a magical, fun-filled journey across the skies to attend a party filled with snowmen and Father Christmas himself.  

The Snowman brand continues to enjoy an international audience with global broadcast of the sequel, along with an array of publishing from Puffin and consumer products; live and immersive experiences managed by Penguin Ventures.  Snowman Enterprises Limited (SEL) is a Penguin Random House company.

About Wild in Art

Wild in Art is the leading producer of spectacular public art events that entertain,

enrich, inform and leave a lasting legacy. It brings together businesses and creative

sectors with schools and local communities through the creation of uniquely painted


Since 2008 Wild in Art has animated cities across the world including Manchester,

Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town and São Paulo, and created trails for the London

2012 Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Historic Royal Palaces

and Penguin Random House.

Wild in Art events have:

Enabled over £19.5m to be raised for charitable causes

Injected £3.5m into local creative communities

Engaged over 950,000 young people in learning programmes

Helped millions of people of all ages to experience art in non-traditional

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