Gromit unleashed is a public art exhibition in which giant sculptures of Aardman animation‘s famous character have been decorated by invited artists and celebrities. People involved have include the likes of Aardman animation’s Peter Lord, famous artists such as Peter Blake and Gerald Scarfe, and celebrities including Joanna Lumley and One Direction’s Zayn Malik. Hell, even Pixar animation have created a Buzz Lightyear Gromit.
After ten weeks on display, all the sculptures will then be auctioned off to raise money for the children’s hospital in Bristol.
I was lucky enough to have a design selected and sponsored by Crest Nicholson and here’s a little more on how I fumbled my way through the creation of ‘Gromit-o-matic’.
On the day I arrived at the secret location to begin work on him, the first steps were to unwrap him and expel a lot of air wondering how on earth I was going to do this. This chap is big, with huge ears rolling out from his head like large wings. After sweating it a bit there was only one thing to do and get stuck in. I was surrounded by some of the other seriously talented artist working in the studio, and running out the door in defeat, well, I just would’ve looked like an idiot. So with an ill chosen brush I lashed the first coat on.
Having not painted in a long time, and having never tackled a large 3D object before, I was a bit of a rookie to say the least. I didn’t paint a base layer on before applying the first layer of colour, which now I know would have been a good thing to do. In my head one coat was all it would take to have a lovely process cyan as my base colour. The picture above is off the first coat, not what I had in mind, and it took another six coats to get somewhere.
Once I had Gromit looking like a member of the Blue man group, I could start thinking about the actual artwork to go on. My design was pretty simple, I wanted to create a large blueprint of an automated Gromit, but onto a three dimensional object. And here I had another thing to sweat about. Creating this design on a 2D template was grand, but how to transfer the front, sides and back containing a grid system and the actual design onto a large object that has bumps and curves? Nothing a bit of procrastination and fear can’t sort out! In the end after wondering how I was going to have perfectly aligned shapes and patterns, I just thought f%&*k it, and started to draw it out free hand using some chalk and a bendy ruler.
With it roughly chalked up, I started to create the grid’s dotted lines. Some of the other artist told me about acrylic pens, which I had never used before, but God bless that big chunky chisel tipped pen, it made things ten times easier. Very slow and tedious, but much much easier.
Once the dots were down and Gromit was looking like he was from Tron, I could start with the actual design! Finally! This was the easiest part, and the most fun as it was mainly creating outlines of shapes and writing text. My idea was just to have it as silly as possible, and squeeze as many bad puns in as possible.
once I had started on the white lines it was a breeze and really, really enjoyable. A quick spray of varnish and he was on his way to be coated in lacquer so as to withstand the elements once out in the public.
If you have the chance to make it to Bristol in the next ten weeks, I seriously recommend it. A map containing the locations of all eighty Gromits can be downloaded at the website, and also there is an App with GPS to help you locate and tag each one you find. The App is currently number two in the Itunes App chart which is fantastic.
Along side the famous celebrities and artists you can see some amazing designs by local talent such as Carys Tait(who has a great blog post about it here) Simon Tozer,the guys from Red Central design agency, Seb Burnett, Dave Bain, Sam Morris at Ignition, Laura Cramer and tons more. A full list can also be found at the Gromit Unleashed website. A big thanks to everyone in the studio and the organisers for being helpful and friendly, making it a great experience.