Seahorses versus bananas!
Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project is well under way. And for two local artists, the rivalry is personal.
Husband and wife artists Deborah Treliving and Malcolm Law are going head-to-head. Malcolm is creating Cool Ice Cream Bananas Gorilla for the Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter, while Deborah is painting Hippocampus Guttulatus Gorilla on behalf of Cavanna Homes.
The Great Gorillas Project is celebrating the 90th birthday of the region’s largest and best-known zoo, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, which is a registered charity.
Life-size model gorillas are 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.
Deborah, who is based at Cockington Court, wanted a design that would have a local link – hence the seahorse. Her gorilla has been inspired by Hippocampus Guttulatus, the spiny seahorse, which is found in Tor Bay. She explained:
“Seahorses, like gorillas, are threatened. Torbay is home to two species; the spiny seahorse and the short snouted seahorse. Seahorses are amazing creatures - they can change colour to match their surroundings, they have prehensile tails and eyes which work independently. I have found them fascinating to draw. I hope that Hippocampus Guttulatus Gorilla will help to increase the awareness of Torbay's seahorses.”
Ellie Smith, from Cavanna Homes, said: “We are really excited to be supporting such a good cause and can’t think of a better way of celebrating both Cavanna’s and Paignton Zoo’s 90th birthdays. We are a family-run company based in Torquay, so we felt it was important to support a local artist and raise awareness of the seahorses in the Bay at the same time. It’s a win-win situation!”
This is the first time the couple has been involved in the same project. Deborah: “We are totally supportive of each other’s work. We were students together at Bath Academy of Art in the 1970s, we are both members of the prestigious Devon Guild of Craftsmen and we have exhibited our work together in France and Japan.”
As a ceramicist, Malcolm is used to working in 3D – but not on this scale. “I’m always limited by the size of the kiln!” Malcolm’s inspiration is also local: “The idea for Cool Ice Cream Bananas came from the fact that the South West is a major tourist area and I wanted a fun link between a gorilla and tourism. The ice cream cornet is a classic image of tourism, with the chocolate flake replaced by a banana. The blue represents the sky and the sea. The reflective orange sunglasses give him a detached feeling of coolness!”
Wayne Pearce, Princesshay Centre Director, added: “Malcolm’s design immediately attracted our attention and we think shoppers will enjoy and appreciate our gorilla’s fun, summer inspired look while on display in Princesshay this August. We’re looking forward to seeing the final result and are pleased to be involved in this exciting project.”