They had placed him on their front lawn in full view of anyone on the Broads (as my husband had noticed the day after and called me whilst taking a boatload of special needs visitors on a sail).
They wanted to have at least 1 GoGogorilla kept local and visible, which is lovely of them. ‘Jack’ as they call him, has a fab view over their front garden, across the footpath, out to their guest house and the Broad.
Apparently people stop to see him all the time, and just in the afternoon I was there he was snapped loads. One boy and his mum were even doing a Gorilla trail of all the ones still visible to the public and came up to see him.
Anyway, after a good scrub and rinse I checked Jack over. After 2 winters and several summers, he had slight crazing (mainly on his head which did get so hot in the sun I couldn’t touch/ paint it) and a few larger cracks at some toe/ pit joints. Not bad – he was painted in acrylics and a couple of layers of Yacht Varnish (don’t use Ronseal ‘clear’ it turns everything yellow).
I filled as much as I could and retouched those and a few age-spotted areas.
His owners are now talking about maybe a shelter or a cover to keep him from the worst extremes of weather but he’s aged really well!
They say the paddle boat from Horning now comes further into Barton Broad so it can turn round in sight of Jack before heading home. He’s a star!
You might recall the first Wild In Art event in Norwich where they had groups decorate elephant statues to go on display then raise money for Break Charity. I was living in Hong Kong at the time so missed it, but did get hired to re-paint an elephant in 2012 which was fun. Post on that artwork is here.
So I applied for the GoGoDragons#GGD15 in 2014 (to be on-show 2015) but didn’t get as many designs in as I’d planned due to being pregnant and quite sick! I was delighted to hear 2 companies wanted to sponsor one of my designs (GoGoFlambeau – more on that later) so was asked to design a new Dragon for Mustard TV, a local channel I know well and enjoy working with.
They fancied a film-related design, and after lots of fails (either something similar was already commissioned or copyright got in the way), we settled on a James Bond theme. When the statue arrived we loved him – he has the nicest face and is very strokeable (but huge).
Some early design ideas here… excuse my very basic computer drawing/ colouring skills…
Challenge 1: The dragons are so high/ tall and have such low tummies that we couldn’t fit it through the side door to the dining room where I usually paint. Luckily the back door was a few inches wider so hubby (mainly on his own due to pregnant me being careful!) managed to squeeze him into our kitchen.
Challenge 2: I was now 6+ months pregnant and bending/ sitting for long periods was hard. (Plus early delivery kept threatening). Queue me mainly working whilst sat on a bouncy yoga ball, and hubby being asked often to tip/ move dragon or even help by painting the less detailed lower undercarriage bits.
Challenge 3: This was actually a hard statue to paint – there seemed to be some sort of covering that just let the paint scratch off even when dry even with just a finger pushed against it.
Challenge 4: Working out how to use the go-pro camera Mustard TV leant me as they fancied trying a stop-motion film. Typically my Macbook refused to recognise the camera card so I had no idea what I was painting the camera at/ how it looked for a few weeks. NOT a success I’m afraid, either I put it too far away or the lights Pete eventually rigged up after we realised the natural sun made it too contrasty made the film strobe! Ah well, live and learn.
But I got on with it. He was to be wearing a classic Bond tuxedo, and have gold skin like in Goldfinger. Metallics aren’t that opaque so there were over 5 layers of bronze then gold acrylic on those bits. Also for his ‘Golden eye’s.
The Union Jack parachute on his back (on her Majesty’s Service was that from?) took fewer layers,
…..as did the intricate jetpack on the outer wings. Lots of stencilling, sponging and tape used as well as freehand artwork!
Then when I thought I had a week or so to complete the details on his tail, I was asked to finish asap as they decided to launch him on April Fool’s Day – whoops! Typically I was fully booked with Paintopia etc bodypaints that weekend so ended up painting into the night just to get him to a ‘finished’ look so they could film their teaser. Martin from Break was fab, organising as late a collection as possible and getting 00Mustard spray varnished in time for filming
The video is brilliant – see Martin & dragon at the end!
This week (June) saw the launch of the trail at Waterside Norwich, and my lovely 00Mustard was 1 of the dragons on display.
Myself & my new 5 week-old baby had a fab time tasting nibbles from all the local eateries, gossiping with Mik & Tina & sponsors,etc, but as we were listening to the opening speeches, a bird whizzed overhead and poo’d on baby Euan’s face as he was sleeping on me in his sling!
Tina, Mik & I had hysterics – I hope you can’t hear us laughing on official films – but I wiped it off before getting a photo (see the spatters on the side of his sling!). Well, that is lucky I guess… maybe I can say it was 1 of the mini scrap dragons that did it!
So we’d had the Launch of the trail opening at Riverside Odeon with a few Gogogorillas including ‘my’ Sea Monkey. Impressive!
After fixing the statues up (Jim especially had several large scratches and holes in him from being climbed on – with force I would think).
But at the end of the trail time, in September, Break wrangled all 60-ish gorillas (and a surprise new Alan Partridge made for the opening of his film) in front of the Forum. It was fabulous to see them all out in the sun together!
They were there for a few days and then taken inside the Forum for the Auction night. I went and sat with the lovely Mik and Tina- but didn’t bid, much as I would have loved to!
Most Gorillas went for over £2,000, my Jungle Jim at £3,600 and Sea Monkey at £3,200. I loved that SeaMonkey was brought out to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music!
A bidding war started over the Carrow Road one, which ended at £17,000. Then finally Mik’s repainted “Freddie’ came out. At around £8,000 the bidding slowed and Mik was about to go and congratulate the winner, when it started again. This time it was leaping up in £1,000s! It was the big seller of the night, going for £20,000.
Over £272,300 was raised for BREAK and Born Free – a FAB effort and a really fun experience for us all. Huge thanks to Martin and the team for organising it all!
I submitted another design I had to the Norwich Break/ Born Free Charity Wild Art Urban Art event- GoGoGorillas. I was delighted that it was picked to be painted for an as yet un-sponsored statue. Riverside later chose it and it was on display all summer at Pulls Ferry.
Martin delivered the blank statue whilst I was out. As it was chilly and dark out there in the stables my poor hubby decided to get him into the house like this!
This gorilla I tried to make more ‘fun’. So I created a Pirates of the Carribbean inspired ape, and used really bright acrylic paint shades.
His face has a hint of Jack Sparrow, his hat has a skull and crossed bananas and he was wearing a typical striped shirt.
A pirate galleon, sunken treasure, a mermaid, sharks and other sea-life cavort across his body, all highlighted with real gold leaf.
Sea Monkey was one of the apes chosen for the ‘official trail launch’ outside the Odeon Cinema on Norwich Riverside. Great event! Huge thanks to Michelle of Purple Photography for all the good photos.
I heard that there was to be another WildinArt event in Norwich – I missed the first, the elephants, as I was living in Hong Kong. Firms could sponsor a statues, pick a design or artist and have their details on display around the city all summer, after which the gorillas would be auctioned off for the charities. I entered a couple of designs and was overjoyed when the ladies of Jungle PRchose my ‘Urban Jungle’ from 100s of entries. I have enjoyed working with them before, so was happy to be the 1st artists in the empty shop we had as a studio in Castle Mall working on a statue.
Bigger than I expected – and I hear real gorillas may be larger! In all my Natural History Museum/ Zoo education career/ travels I didn’t actually meet a live one so I wouldn’t know… They came ‘undercoated’ in white, so I invested in a lot of decent acrylic paint and got started.
The idea was that although the project was to raise funds for BREAK Charity AND theBorn Free Foundation, I could highlight the difficulties local urban wildlife had. Lots of easily identified animals (fox, robin, hedgehog) were painted on, peeping out of an untidy garden as that’s the best for wildlife.
Norwich cathedral’s tower with its falcons was shown, as was a thrush on a wall with a glittered snail trail leading down the brickwork as a maze for kids to let any snails escape into (or be caught from!). And the famed starling swirls of Suffolk (which I often saw when working for Suffolk Wildlife Trust).
There were bees & ladybirds to ‘spot’, a tree with a sleepy owl and cheeky squirrel, and a small pond full of frogs and newts etc. A rainbow sunset down the back darkened to a bat in an evening sky. Scattered along the sides were hints on things to encourage those species into your urban area – bug homes, pots for hedgehogs, flowers, plants and food they like…
It was lovely to see the other artists arrive and start work too. Mik Richardson is the expert guru on these statues and is now a great friend. His Radio Gogo Freddie Mercury was stunning and did not deserve the ridiculous removal- he had to re-paint the face after it went out in public, as a hairy gorilla, after the Freddy Mercury lot objected. Insane. And then someone from Queen made totally wrong comments about Mik He had the best result – Freddie went for about triple of any other price at the auction – £20,000 for the charities!
it took a lot longer than I expected- over a week of 8+ hour days! I’m used to painting on curves at awkward angles from my body work, but I reckon just the head and front legs of the gorilla has about as much surface area as an average body model!
It’s a nice change to have done something that was varnished on and will last a bit longer than my usual ephemeral stuff!
The statues were taken off to have those code square weblink things attached to them with the artist and sponsor details on plaques, and then lorried to their locations. Jungle Jim was on Fyes Bridge in Norwich; for months I had photos tagged to me on my Facebook page of people cuddling him, riding him, even a bridal party around him! Sadly I’ve lost them all after I was banned from Facebook (for unsafe photos even though I don’t paint nudes and the ‘final straw’ banned photo was of a face painted fairy! Its vindictive and has been happening to body artists worldwide:/)
Sadly he was quite gouged and bashed up from people sliding on and off him – even a hole in him under the owl, which isn’t easy to do, so i had to do a fair bit of touching up before the auction.