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Gorilla army lining up for art invasion

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: July 11, 2013

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A TROOP of colourful life-size gorillas will be creating a unique art trail around Exeter.

The Great Gorillas Project will celebrated the 90th anniversary of Paignton Zoo - and will see a string of colourfully decorated gorilla models being placed around Exeter.

The aim is to showcase artistic talent, and the life-sized models are being individually designed and sponsored by local businesses and community groups.

It is also hoped it will raise awareness of the threats facing gorillas in the wild.

Similar schemes have been run in other cities around Britain and have seen scores of families trying to find and picture all of the gorillas.

Paignton Zoo's resident artist Sue Misselbrook has designed and painted her own full-size and miniature version of one of the gorillas.

"I was asked to create a gorilla as an ambassador for the project. He became known as Herbert, after the zoo's founder Herbert Whitley."

Four designs, including Herbert, have been chosen to be produced as 5in china gorillas. These will be available to buy from mid-August and profits will go towards the project.

The gorillas will be on display from August 3 until October 13. They will then move back to Paignton Zoo temporarily before being auctioned for charity on November 6.

The project has brought together two unlikely partners – a top financial management company and a tattoo artist.

Cathedral Financial Management Ltd, of Exeter, has sponsored a Great Gorilla. Their chosen design is by Torbay tattoo artist Danny Kidd. Ironically, the design is called Not so Different.

Neil Gore, director of Cathedral Financial Management, said: "We wanted to get involved in The Great Gorillas Project to help support a local charity with a quirky but meaningful conservation project.

"We reviewed a number of designs and settled on this one purely based on our personal preferences. We like Danny's style and think that it stands out from the crowd."

For young artist Jessica Miller, Paignton Zoo's Great Gorillas Project is a family affair. Her sister Lorriane is a gorilla keeper at the zoo.

Jess, who also volunteers at Paignton Zoo, knows the zoo's five male lowland gorillas – Pertinax, Kiondo, Kivu, N'Dowe and Matadi – very well.

The artist is entirely self-taught. "I started an art A-level, and they were very nice teachers, but I left. Mostly I've done pictures for friends and people at the zoo. This is by far my biggest challenge. I hope it could be my big break."

She is painting her gorilla – called Skins – in Union Square Shopping Centre, Torquay. The sponsor is ATASS, based in Exeter, and Skins will be on show in the city during the summer.

Details of where the Great Gorillas will be in Exeter, and when they will appear, will be published exclusively on a huge poster inside next week's Echo.

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