2013 (March/July) Great Gorillas Project Paignton Zoo

The Great Gorillas Project is a public Art project by Wild in Art raising money and awareness for @PaigntonZoo.  My Darth Vader design was sponsored and chosen by Cavanna Homes Ltd.  If you are familiar with the cow parade, the project will be very similar, with numerous painted Gorillas on public display for 10 weeks in Devon, Exeter and Torquay during June/July before being auctioned for charity.

 

Keep up to date with the project by following on Twitter @GreatGorillas @Wild_in_Art @PaigntonZoo @mandiipope or @DarthGorilla www.greatgorillas.org.uk 

 

To read more about my sponsors Cavanna Homes see this link:

2013 (March/July) Great Gorillas Project Paignton Zoo (Darth Vader Gorilla)

Iconic Star Wars villain Darth Vader has been reborn – as a life-size gorilla.

He is rumoured to be plotting world domination from an empty shop unit in Exeter, Devon.

London-based artist Mandii Pope has created the extraordinary figure as part of Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project. The project, celebrating Paignton Zoo’s 90th birthday, is putting a host of life-size model gorillas, sponsored by businesses and painted by specially-commissioned artists, on the streets of Exeter and the English Riviera this summer.

Mandii Pope: “It was a labour of love, making him at lunch times, working for 3 hours each day after work and at weekends.” She was supported by Landmark Plc in London (two directors of the company live in Devon): “They let me create Darth Vader Gorilla at Royal Mint Court - without Landmark Plc I could not have done this, as he is too big to fit anywhere else!”

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Darth Vader Gorilla is striking, imaginative and very, very imposing!”

In addition, she has been awarded a grant by the New Zealand Society - a group of ex-pats who support kiwis overseas – to help cover her costs and to enable her to visit Devon in support of the project.

Mandii has exhibited in London, Dubai, Bucharest and Auckland and sold work in the South Pacific, America, Asia, Europe and South America.

Her inspiration came from comedian Eddie Izzard’s sketch about Darth Vader in the Death Star canteen. “I studied the build of Darth Vader and the Great Gorilla - they are similar in shape and so it was an obvious choice.”

Darth is made of some surprising items. His boots and gloves are camping foam, his mask features knee pads for the eyebrows and mouth and a plant pot forms the top of his helmet. You might also spot a plastic cup, a length of garden hose and an old pair of oversized 1970s fancy dress glasses. His chest box makes breathing sounds and speaks, and he wields a working light sabre.

With Eddie Izzard on a world tour and plans for Star Wars Episode 7 to be filmed in the UK, it seems a perfect time for Darth Vader Gorilla to make his mark. The figure will be auctioned in November to raise money for charity. Phil Knowling: “We just need George Lucas to come along and bid for him!”

The sculpture is being displayed at Harlequins Shopping Centre in Exeter. “Despite being an evil commander of the Galactic Empire, he's a little delicate, so he’s staying indoors. We hope to open the shop during the weekends so fans can get in to see him close up. We plan to remove his mask at some point during the summer – people will have to watch out for that.”

The full size gorilla model, standing on all fours, is 140cms tall, 120cms long and 60cms wide. He comes complete with helmet, cape and a talking chest-plate. The design was chosen and sponsored by Cavanna Homes, the region’s largest independent house builder, who also mark their 90th birthday this year. The company has sponsored two Great Gorillas – Darth Vader Gorilla and Hippocampus Guttulatus Gorilla, which features the seahorses of Tor Bay – the species found in Cavanna’s logo.

Let’s hope the real gorillas of Paignton Zoo - Pertinax, Kiondo, Kivu, N’Dowe and Matadi - don’t join Darth, as they could be a pretty imposing force…

great gorillas launch

 Paignton Zoo is sending 30 gorillas to sea. The Great Gorillas Flotilla will see boats with more than two dozen life-size painted model gorillas on board sailing across Tor Bay. The extraordinary spectacle is part of Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project, which is celebrating the 90th birthday of the region’s largest and best-known zoo.

 

The Gorilla Flotilla takes place on Tuesday 23rd July. Greenway Ferry craft will be plying their normal routes, complete with gorillas on board, during the day before gathering for the mass sailing in the evening. Gorilla sponsors will enjoy VIP boat trips during the day on the World War Two Heritage vessel Fairmile. They will then retire to the terrace of the café at Living Coasts to review the fleet. The public will be joining the evening sailings of the Gorilla Flotilla for free.

 

The Great Gorillas Project sees life-size model gorillas being sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter. For further information go to: www.greatgorillas.org.uk. Project partners include Torbay Council, the Torbay Town Centres Company, Exeter City Council, the English Riviera Tourism Company and Wild in Art, a leading public art company.

 

The spectacular Grand Finale came when the Greenway Ferries fleet, carrying the gorillas, lined up in front of admiring guests watching from the terrace at Living Coasts. The Flotilla launched the Great Gorillas Project, which will see life-sized, hand-painted gorilla sculptures put on display in streets, parks and open spaces around the English Riviera for 10 weeks from 3rd August 2013.

darth vader gorilla at harlequins

The 501's legion and the UK Garrison, kindly came to the launch of the Great Gorillas trail at Harlequins Shopping Centre, dressed at Stormtroopers to greet all the trail blazers.

goodbye great gorillas at Paignton zoo 

great gorillas auction

great gorillas miniatures

Miniatures - We made two miniatures - One for Babacombe Village, the other to be reproduced.  

I met Dave Prowse "the Real Darth Vader" from the Star Wars movies in the 70's, who kindly signed my miniatures.

great gorillas miniatures at babbacombe village

Babbacombe Model Village is getting involved in Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project in a big way – by faithfully recreating the trail of life-size painted gorillas in miniature.

Thirty 5 inch-tall china gorillas have been placed around the Model Village for the summer. Some artists have painted their own miniatures, while others have been completed by Model Village staff.

In addition, Babbacombe Model Village has sponsored a full-size silverback gorilla that is more than ten times the size of the miniatures. Back of Beyond was painted by Peter Poole, from Hove, in East Sussex, and can be found not far from the entrance to the attraction.

During October half term 20 juvenile gorillas decorated by schools will be displayed at the Model Village, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year. Visitors will be able to vote for their favourite – the reward for the winning school will be free visits to Paignton Zoo and to the Model Village itself.

The Great Gorillas Project is celebrating the 90th birthday of the region’s largest and best-known zoo, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. It is also raising funds for gorilla conservation and for Children’s Hospice South West.

Life-size model gorillas have been sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Exeter and the English Riviera. For further information go to: www.greatgorillas.org.uk.