Headed by Aardman Animations, for ten weeks between 1st July and 8th September, eighty statues of Gromit have been placed in a type of public art display under the title, 'Gromit Unleashed'. These are mainly in the greater Bristol area, but some are further afield. Each statue has been designed or decorated by a different individual and each sponsored by a different corporate entity. After the end of the ten week period they'll then be auctioned off to raise funds for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital charity.
As my husband used to work for Aardman, I have a soft spot for all things Aardmanite. I even got to go on a couple of friends and family tours and held a model Gromit in my hand. It's just a shame it was all subject to confidentiality agreements, and I don't have any photographic evidence! As a result, as soon as I heard that the statues were being launched, I wanted to get out to see them. One of them is in London, which may well prove a bit problematic, I just have to hope that there's a course or meeting I need to attend there for work over the next few weeks!
As I've been off work this week, I've taken the opportunity to get around and see (and photograph) as many Gromits as I can. I'm aware 80 Gromits in one hit is a bit much for anyone, so I thought I'd blog after each 20 that I've visited, a target that I passed yesterday. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I have.
This is 'Poochadelic' by Lisa Hassell, sponsored by Linden Homes. This was the first Gromit we found, at Gloucesteshire Cricket Club. A good start, nice and colourful.
Next we went to see 'Two Eds are Better than One', by Peter Brookes, sponsored by Dunkley's Chartered Accountants and placed outside their offices. The illustrations are of Ed Balls as Gromit and Ed Milliband as Wallace. One for the more politically savvy, I think!
We took a drive up through the countryside to Hawkesbury Upton, where we found the next Gromit, 'Harmony' by Marie Simpson, tucked away in the Beaufort Arms beer garden, who had also sponsored him. I liked his design, with flowers and birds, which perfectly suited the summer weather.
Heading back home at the end of our first day, we nipped in to see 'Roger' by Richard Williams. He was outside the Top to Bottom soft furnishings store in Staple Hill, who also sponsored him. With my limited artistic ability and love of bright colours, this is probably how I'd have painted Gromit!
Another day, another set of Gromits. We were already in the area and so decided to visit the Gromits at the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre. This first one, 'The Wild West' by Amy Timms, was outside Harveys the furniture store, and was sponsored by them. He looks a little crazed, due to having a snail for one eye and a ladybird for the other!
Our next stop was 'Antique Rose' by Cath Kidston MBE, who was just outside one of the main entrances to the shopping centre, and was sponsored by them. This seemed a popular one judging by the reactions of the other people taking photographs of him.
'The Green Gromit', by Zayn Malik, was inside the Gromit Unleashed store in the shopping centre, who sponsored him. Not one of my favourites, as it's not immediately obvious that a lot of thought went into this one (prepares for the wrath of One Direction fans).
We went into town in the afternoon for a trip around the museum and found 'TutanGromit' by Dale Evans, just inside. He was sponsored by Brewin Dolphin and fitted perfectly with the Egyptian exhibition which we'd come to see.
Next we walked up to the Royal West of England Academy and found 'Bushed' by David Inshaw just inside. He was sponsored by Airbus and again wasn't amongst my favourites as little thought seemed to have gone into the design.
'Golden Gromit' by Julie Vernon was sparkling outside the Victoria Rooms and was sponsored by Dancourt Group. This is one of my favourites so far and must have taken ages to form the mosaic design.
'Vincent Van Gromit' by Laura Cramer was on a side street around the back of the Royal West of England Academy, so we nipped to see him on the way back to the car. He was sponsored by County Contractors and was quite a clever idea, I especially liked the bandaged ear!
The following day we both had appointments in Clifton, and so did a walk around all of the Gromits in the vicinity. We found 'Sheepdog' by Richard 'Golly' Starzak in the Mall Gardens, he was sponsored by BID Clifton Village. He's a Trojan Horse, you can just about see Shaun the Sheep inside controlling him.
On Sion Hill in the shadow of the Suspension Bride we found 'Ship Shape & Bristol Fashion' by Sarah Matthews, sponsored by Bristol City Council. This was a really clever one, with several parts of Bristol drawn onto him.
We had to search a bit for 'Fiesta' by Lindsay McBirnie. At first we went down the road behind the Avon Gorge hotel, and then spotted a sign that read, "Gromit is in the pub", at first we assumed he would be in the Avon Gorge Hotel, but he was actually on the terrace at the White Lion, but confusingly sponsored by the Avon Gorge Hotel. It was another clever design in a perfect location on a sunny day.
We then walked through to Clifton Hill where we found 'Patch' by Emily Golden and sponsored by Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital. This was a cheery design and unusually didn't have any other Gromit spotters around him. In fact the only other people around were the workmen eating their lunches and snoozing under the nearby trees!
We jumped in the car and spotted 'Sugar Plum' by Celia Birtwell CBE on our way up to the Downs. He was outside The Redgrave Theatre, but sponsored by Clifton College. The rose theme seems quite popular, not the first nor the last we'll see.
We made a quick stop at Bristol Zoo Gardens to see 'A Mandrill's Best Friend' by Vivi Cuevas, sponsored by Kings Heavy Haulage (Bristol). Again, this was a perfect design for the location and was very popular.
'Dog Rose' by Ros Franklin was nearby on Whiteladies Road and was sponsored by A C Services (Southern). This one looked like he was rolling his eyes, a simple design, but done well.
'Blossom' by Emily Ketteringham was nearby outside Cafe Retreat on the Downs, but sponsored by Siniat. From the photographs this looks like he's in a bit of a sad location, it's a shame they didn't place him with the Downs as a backdrop, his flowery image would have worked much better then.
We did a few more that day, but as I've now covered our first twenty, that seems like a good place to stop.
Hopefully you're enjoying seeing the Gromit statues. If you want to come to Bristol to hunt some down for yourself, there's an app for Apple and Android phones, that you can use to tick them off as you see them. It costs 69p, but most of that goes to the charity. The Gromit Unleashed website is also worth a look. You can download maps there, or pick them up from the passport stops and shops (where you can also get your Gromit Unleashed passport stamped).
If there's anything I can help with, or you just want to let me know which is your favourite Gromit, please leave me a comment below.
I'll hopefully be back with the next twenty shortly before I have to go back to work and life gets in the way!