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Doodle Boy to Create Giant Shrewsbury Artwork
19 Jul 2023

Shrewsbury 'Doodle Boy' Joe Whale is to create a giant 'Darwin Doodle' in Shrewsbury Library to celebrate Darwin200 – a major global conservation initiative

The Doodle Boy Joe Whale is to create a giant artwork in Shrewsbury this weekend (July 21) to celebrate the Darwin200 Epic Global Voyage, retracing Charles Darwin’s 1831 Voyage On the HMS Beagle.

Aged just 13, Joe has already forged an international career with his extraordinary talent for creating doodle characters, after a video of him doodling on the walls of Shrewsbury restaurant Number Four went viral. In the five years since, his gift has earned him widespread global acclaim, including a major collaboration with Nike, filming with actress Melissa McCarthy for NBC in the USA, appearing on major news channels worldwide, a two book deal with Scholastic, murals for the England football team and the Lionesses - the list goes on. He's even had a commission from Kate and Wills and has this year been busy working with Orange Comet on The Remarkables - a multimedia collection of doodles.

This Friday (July 21) there's a chance to see The Doodle Boy in action in his home town Shrewsbury, at 1pm at the town library, as he creates an 8ft x 5ft giant doodle for The Darwin200 project, a global conservation mission that celebrates 200 years since Charles Darwin boarded HMS Beagle. Joe has just a few hours to create his masterpiece, before it is hoisted up on display in front of the Darwin statue. 

Darwin was born in a grand house on The Mount and, like Joe, spent his childhood in Shrewsbury. The library used to be his old school (before Shrewsbury School moved to Kingsland). The new artwork draws a nice parallel between Joe's artistic ingenuity and the scientific legacy of Darwin.

Joe said: "I'm excited to work on this project and celebrate Darwin's legacy in my home town. I hope my artwork will inspire curiosity for The Darwin200 project, encourage others to explore nature and it helps us all appreciate our planet's diversity".

Joe's My Shrewsbury cover

Doodle Boy aged 13

Pictured above: The Doodle Boy's cover for My Shrewsbury magazine a few years ago - and Joe now aged 13 

Joe and his family have just arrived back from a six-month adventure in Australia and Joe will be resuming his studies at Ellesemere College in September. 

Greg Whale, Joe's dad, said: "Darwin is incredibly important to Shrewsbury but globally as well. Joe’s really excited to be affiliated with someone of that stature. He’s really excited to get doodling and has got some ideas already. As you know, he doesn’t really plan. He has a little think about stuff. He’ll just arrive and do something awesome. He did the England piece in front of the whole England team - nothing fazes him!

"This is a chance for people in Shrewsbury to see Joe do real art - pen to canvas. The more the merrier as long as Joe’s got space to work. Joe will be happy to talk to people and chat. If he can do it with the England team watching he'll be able to do it in Shrewsbury!"

Naturalist Stewart McPherson and Andrew Fox are the visionaries behind the Darwin200 tall ship journey - and Andrew will be present to witness The Doodle Boy's creative process. Departing from Plymouth, England on Saturday, August 15, 2023, Darwin200 will follow in Darwin's 'sea-steps', visiting 32 ports worldwide.

Guided by 200 talented young Darwin leaders, aged 18-25, and supported by esteemed Conservation NGOs, this global voyage seeks to honour Darwin's legacy and further scientific understanding - picking up where Darwin left off!

The involvement of The Doodle Boy in the Darwin200 project holds profound significance, highlighting the remarkable connection between this young artist and his hometown. The art work will also raise money for four Darwin charities.

Shrewsbury will witness The Doodle Boy's artistic brilliance firsthand, as he captures the essence of this awe-inspiring voyage within his creation over an hour creating. 

As The Doodle Boy's artwork takes shape, it will serve as a testament to Shrewsbury's rich heritage and the enduring spirit of exploration and innovation that flows through its veins.

As Stewart McPherson says: "Conservation is not about what we have lost, but what we still have. The Doodle Boy is breathing life into our common goal".