By Andrew Atkinson
The iconic Osborne bulls are once again at serious risk of disappearing – amid artists attempts to eliminate the figures – with poles and blue paint.
Thousands of drivers have seen the iconic bull, in situ in Santa Pola, as they drive to and from Alicante-Elche airport down the years.
Street artist Sam3, re-painted the bull in the style of Picasso’s immortal ‘Guernica’ as an anti-bullfighting protest, today remaining a tourist attraction.
However, Santa Pola council stepped in and the bull was re-painted black.
In the latest attempt to alter the iconic bull silhouettes, artists have painted the Osborne bull, located on a road on the outskirts of Ginzo de Limia, Orense, with blue paint blending in with the sky.
After their artwork they returned to take a picture – only to find that the Civil Guard was waiting for them.
However, despite the authorities taking photographs of the artists, they cannot be accused of anything, due to there being no solid proof that they defaced it.
The latest incident comes on the back of similar incidents. In 2005 the Civil Guard denounced Javier Figueredo, an artist who, to turn the Osborne bull into a cow, painted white spots on it and charged with a crime against cultural heritage.
Osborne wineries were founded in the second half of the 18th century, being the second oldest company in Spain.
Englishman Thomas Osborne arrived in Cádiz from Exeter, in 1772, shipping sherry back to England, with the Osborne brandy later following suit.
The creation of the Osborne bull dates back to 1956, inaugurated when Osborne wineries commissioned Manuel Prieto, who worked for the Azor advertising agency, to design a symbol for their Veterano Brandy.
Manolo Prieto’s design were erected depicting silhouettes of toros de lidia next to main roads in Spain, with the name of Osborne’s Veterano brandy tattooed across the bulls.
The original wooden bulls were later upgraded to metal, with over 500 in Spain at its peak.
In 1962, the government announced advertising signs next to roads were distracting drivers, ending with the Osborne bull being moved 150 metres away from roadsides.
Osborne doubled the size of their bulls after the announcement.
In 1988, a law was made banning all roadside advertising, leading to Osborne removing the Veterano branding off the bulls, with the silhouettes remaining in situ.
Additional laws were introduced and in 1994 the Reglamento General de Carreteras, Spain’s road authority, announced their removal.
It was, in the main, all but the beginning of the end of the iconic bulls throughout Spain. But not quite.
In Andalucía, the bulls were declared a bien cultural, being a cultural asset.
In 1994, the Congreso de los Diputados also stepped in, announcing the bulls were of patrimonio cultural y artistico – a cultural and artistic heritage. And in 1997, the future of the legendary bulls went to the Supreme Court – with a decision made that bulls could remain in place.
There are no Osborne bulls in Cataluña. A bull silhouette had its horns removed in Mallorca, while in Extremadura, a bull was turned into a cow!
There are now less than 100 black silhouettes of a bull alongside roads throughout Spain.
Up to 14 metres high they are in situ, strategically placed on the skyline for maximum impact.
Today, Osborne finances the financial upkeep of the bulls’ maintenance.
Caption: Santa Pola Osborne bull: Painted in Picasso’s ‘Guernica’, was re-painted black.