My time spent in Jersey for my ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ project was fantastic!
Along with several other artists I was able to use Jane James Studios in St Helier, Jersey to complete my gorilla sculpture. The studio space was incredible and the company even better! I think it’s fair to say that the blank gorilla sculptures were a little larger than expected, but so full of character! I already knew that his name would be ‘Rotchi’, although further explanation of his name will have to wait until I am permitted to unveil my finished design once the art trail has gone live. (There are a few clues in this blog but if you work it out, I’m not to blame!)
On my second morning on the island, I was invited to ‘Ronez’ for a tour of the quarry in the north of the island. Ronez have not only chosen and sponsored my gorilla design but they will be producing the 40 concrete plinths needed to display the gorilla sculptures once the trail goes live in July 2019. They also already work with Jersey Zoo and Durrell on a conservation project for the ‘Choughs’, an endangered species of bird. The Chough colony was released in Jersey and they have quite happily set up camp at the site of the quarry in St John. They provide great entertainment for the quarry team who in turn keep a close eye on them to help to ensure the success of the project. I was fortunate to be able to see them on my visit flying over the quarry and nesting in various popular spots around the site!
The tour of the quarry allowed me to see the rock formations, colours, textures and patterns in detail. I also pinched a few small pieces to inspire me in the studio! I was amazed to discover that when I was at the very lowest point of the quarry, I was actually 30 metres below sea level. The quarry was extremely peaceful even with the noise of the machinery. It was also incredibly beautiful, particularly from the viewing platform at the very top of the quarry (approximately 120 metres up from the lowest point).
I must just say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the experience, with special thanks to Paul Pinel (sales manager) and Peter Moden (quarry operations manager) for the tour of the site and their ongoing support.
On my way back to the studio in St Helier, I was able to stop off at Jersey Zoo in Trinity to visit the gorillas in person. I have visited the zoo several times every year since I was a baby but I found it inspiring to see the zoo with fresh eyes whilst working on the ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ project aimed at fundraising for the gorilla enclosure. I was also able to meet some of the team working on the ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ project.
Back at the studio, I was expecting to be working for up to 3 days on the production of the design. It very quickly became clear that I would be working in the studio for the full week of my stay in Jersey! Luckily, I loved every second of it, so even with the sun shining down on the Boat Show going on in the harbour, it didn’t dampen my spirits! I did manage a cream tea at the Jersey Museum in my lunch break so I just about managed to cope!!!
The design developed gradually, building layers of paint on the gorilla. I can include ‘sneak peek’ photos at this point but no full images of the design or any further details. I can unveil my gorilla after the trail goes live in July so watch this space!
On the final afternoon, I was able to varnish the finished design. The varnish brought out the detail and colour, enhancing the painted surface. I am extremely pleased with the outcome and I can’t wait to see him in his chosen spot on the trail in Jersey over the summer! After a week spent painting my gorilla, I found it very difficult to leave him behind!
I will add full photos of ‘Rotchi’ when I can as well as photos of him on the trail.
The people I met during my week really made the experience special for me so a huge thank you to all, especially my lovely fellow artists, my sponsor and the fantastic Jane James Studios. I look forward to returning for the opening in July!