artist and former national school-boy sportsman Stuart Wright, gorillas loom
large. A plush gorilla toy has travelled everywhere with him since he was two
years old. And now he has painted a three-dimensional life-size gorilla – in
gorilla sculpture is part of The Great Gorillas Project, celebrating Paignton
Zoo's 90th birthday, which comes to a climax with the grand charity
auction on Wednesday 6th November.
model gorillas have been sponsored by businesses, painted in original designs
by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique
art trail around the English Riviera and Exeter.
Gorilla design features the delicately airbrushed faces of a gorilla and tiger.
It's the perfect canvas for him. Stuart: "When I was two years old, my grandparents
gave me a plush gorilla toy which I named G'rills. This plush toy has been
everywhere with me - holidays, athletic training camps, national sailing competitions,
university - and he still keeps me company in my office at home!"
Stuart, who is
the Marketing & Business Development Manager for the Family Law Company in
Exeter, grew up in Exmouth, attending St Peter's Preparatory in Lympstone and
rugby but also swam (he once raced against a young Liam Tancock), sailed
competitively at national level (rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ben
Ainslie) and aged 11 ran the 200 metres in his first national championships. Some
of his school sprint records still stand.
He ran at national
level, played rugby league for his university and went on to trial for the GB
bobsleigh and bob skeleton development squads, but suffered a major leg injury
at the National Indoor Athletics Championships in 2003. That injury took 12
months to mend, required surgery and helped cut short a promising sporting
of Stuart's adventures there was always one fluffy character who was dragged
along for the ride. In addition, G'rills has been to Antigua, Barbados, the US,
Portugal, France, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Mexico and Wales.
art and design at Loughborough University and then moved on to illustration and
then fine art, which is where he started airbrushing. Unusually, he then completed
a Masters in Marketing and Business Management.
submitted his design and was commissioned by sponsors ZooVue, who install and
stream live web cams in zoos across the country. His design is called Hope.
Why? "Hope is designed to remind us what this project and the work of Paignton
Zoo is all about. I want to inspire hope!"
Hope became a landmark on Babbacombe Downs, on the
English Riviera, through the summer as part of the free public art trail.
his garage into a spray booth to complete the work. "Because the gorillas were
exposed to the elements it was important to make sure that the paint and the
protective coats were properly applied. Having dust in the atmosphere when
spraying prevents a good bond with the surface and ruins the finish, leaving it
"My usual work
space wasn't big enough for the gorilla so I adapted my garage. I started by
creating an enclosed tent using plastic sheeting and rolls of duct tape. This
was built inside the garage and then meticulously cleaned to make sure that it
was dust free. I use heated fans to keep the space filled with clean air and an
extractor to remove the dirty air."
The Great Gorillas grand charity auction on Wednesday
6th November. For further
information go to: www.greatgorillas.org.uk.