Go Wild Gorilla trail goes live!

The trail was due to go live on Saturday 27thJuly. The idea was that Jersey would wake up to the gorilla sculptures out in the wild across the island. To achieve this, people worked hard on the Friday night to ensure that all of the gorillas were on their plinths overnight ready for their big day! I went to see where my gorilla ‘Rotchi’ would be for the trail and had to take this photo of the plinth all ready for his arrival! The plaque was also there. I still can’t believe my name is on a plaque in Jersey – I’m so thrilled!


I spent the evening watching vans go past, wondering if they were transporting gorillas to their new temporary homes. I was lucky enough to be watching as a gorilla was unloaded from its van and placed in Liberation Square in St Helier! Having been involved with the project, it was extremely exciting to see it all unfolding on the Friday evening! At about 10.30pm as I was on my way to my hotel after dinner, I decided to go to see if Rotchi was already in his spot on the ‘Route du Nord’ in St John. It was completely dark but I was too impatient to wait! He was there and looking totally magnificent!


The trail has proven to be extremely popular and at the point of writing this blog, the Go Wild Gorillas App recorded that the gorilla sculptures had received 113,430 unlocks in total! Absolutely incredible as the trail has only been live for just under 3 weeks! I have added photographs and a video of Rotchi onto the Galleries page of my website. You’ll see the beautiful spot he has on La Route Du Nord in Jersey. He has the most stunning view of all 40 gorillas – an observation also made by a reporter on ITV channel news!



If you’re in Jersey, please do go and visit Rotchi and tag me into pictures on instagram (@amybourbonart) or twitter (@amybourbon). I’d love to see them!

Go Wild Gorillas Private View, 25thJuly 2019, 6pm.

Jane James studios- St Helier, Jersey.

I was invited to attend the ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ private view at Jane James studios in St Helier where I had also spent time in April painting my own life size gorilla sculpture along with other artists from Jersey, the UK and even LA. The project sponsors and artists were all invited as well as one of the patrons of the charity, Milo Parker from ITV’s The Durrells.


The event included drinks, speeches and a sneak peek at the phenomenal 40 life size gorillas all lined up and ready to go out into the wild for the opening of the trail. It was so lovely to meet up again with all the Jersey artists and the GWG team to celebrate the results of such an amazing project.


The gorillas looked absolutely incredible. They were lined up on either side of the long studio space and when you entered the room the presence of the gorillas was extremely powerful. It was like they were lined up for battle and raring to go! Seeing my gorilla ‘Rotchi’ (sponsored by Ronez) in the line up was a very proud moment for me! The main lights had been switched off and special lighting had been installed for the private view. The lights were different colours and reflected off the gorillas, creating an impactful space and some exciting effects within the room. The darker gorillas took on the colours well, Rotchi included! I have included some photos of the room, as well as Rotchi under the coloured lights. The gorillas were extremely varied from bright colourful designs and patterns through to gorillas dressed to reflect different situations, uniforms or jobs. Rotchi was designed to look as though he is made of Jersey granite excavated from the quarry up in St John through built up rock textures and crevices.


The event was a success with sponsors and artists able to see all of the designs before the trail was due to go live. They were also able to see where each gorilla would be placed and trail maps were handed out to guests.

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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!

IMG_2356I’m excited to announce that I have started work on my latest project for ‘Go Wild Gorillas’!

Durrell Wildlife Conservation is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. To mark these incredible years of conservation work achieved both at Jersey Zoo and in the wild all around the globe, ‘Go Wild Gorillas’, in partnership with ‘Wild in Art’ and ‘Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’ will be delivering a sculpture trail across Jersey in the Channel Islands.

The inspiration for this art trail is the incredible species, the Western Lowland Gorilla. The trail marks the launch of fundraising towards the development of a newly extended and redeveloped gorilla house for the gorilla family at Jersey Zoo. Western Lowland Gorillas are under threat in the wild due to the loss of habitat, hunting and wildlife trade and infectious disease. Jersey Zoo has been caring for a gorilla family for almost 60 years. I have been visiting the changing gorilla family at Jersey Zoo along with my family since I was born. I have spent hours watching all three of the incredible silverback male gorillas that have been resident at the zoo, as well as the many female gorillas and their offspring. I also follow the progress of the gorillas once they are moved to other zoos. I have a strong affinity to Jersey zoo and its beautiful animals and I follow the various conservation projects around the world. As such, I feel extremely honoured to be working for such an incredible project – It’s a unique opportunity!

The gorilla sculptures function as 3D blank canvasses and artists were required to submit designs for consideration by the various sponsors and commissioners. My design is sponsored by ‘Ronez’, the principal quarrying company operating from a site in St John’s Jersey, as well as in Guernsey. Whilst I cannot give details about my design, it is fair to say that my inspiration is inextricably linked with both Jersey’s beautiful coastline and with the work undertaken by the sponsor. I will be updating my twitter account ‘@AmyBourbon’ on a regular basis, documenting my paint experiments, photographs of sections of my gorilla during production and any related experiences of my time painting in Jersey for the ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ project. I will also be visiting the Ronez quarry to gain first hand knowledge of my design influence and to learn more about the quarry itself. There are also endangered choughs nesting at the quarry. These birds were reintroduced to the wild as a result of one of Jersey Zoo’s incredible conservation projects.

The completed gorilla sculptures will be part of an innovative art trail around the town centre, parks, open spaces and parishes around Jersey. The trail aims to contribute to the economic, cultural and social life of the Island. The trail will be live from the 29th July and available to see until 14th October 2019 culminating in a ‘Grand Gorilla Auction’ in November.

Watch this space for updates and images!


‘Exploring Oil Painting’ Workshop, (Sea Music Project)

My Oil Painting Workshop was on 12th November 12-4pm, 5th floor, Poole Museum, supported by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

What a fantastic event! A great opportunity to share an afternoon with ladies who were obviously incredible artists but who were not familiar with oil paints. I introduced the equipment needed and demonstrated possible approaches to applying the paint. I provided small pieces of primed canvas to encourage experimentation with the different approaches and equipment. The success of the day hinged on how amazingly they all threw themselves into playing with oil paints! They embraced the idea of just trying things and seeing how they went. There was paint everywhere (messiest students ever but it was brilliant!) and faces of enjoyment all round! The work produced was fantastic and each person engaged with the paint in a different way, with some abstract influences and some bold studies of the Sea Music sculpture! Perfect for the aim of the residency! We had some great art discussions and some lovely chats. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, topped off with some mini mince pies I took along to get the festive season started! A HUGE thank you to everyone involved!



Exhibition Private View

Sea Music in Residence – October 21st 2017, 2-4pm, Poole Museum, supported by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund.

The private view event celebrated the conservation of ‘Sea Music’ by Anthony Caro. The first floor gallery displayed the work of the two artist residencies, (myself and Jonathan Parsons), as well as the writer in residence (Becci Louise Fearnley). There was a choir singing a specially commissioned piece within the museum. The 2nd floor gallery housed a display of work inspired by ‘Sea Music’ created by residents and visitors to Poole and there was a dance performance on the viewing platforms of the sculpture on the Quay. The dance event was performed at dusk on the evening of the 20th October due to stormy weather due on the day of the private view, creating an atmospheric and impactful performance.

I spoke to many visitors during the private view event, talking about my work and my approach to the residency, but also gaining information from the visitors about their own experiences of the sculpture. The ‘Artists Talk’ took place at 3.15pm within the gallery space. We were able to talk about our specific influences and how those influences manifested themselves within our work. My own painting practice was inspired by the impact of the sculpture on the Quay and in turn the impact of the Quay on the sculpture. I talked about my source collection methods, spending time at the sculpture, the small details within the environment, the sounds ingrained within the experience of being on the Quay and my approach to creating my work. I discussed the soft, free-hanging swathes of canvas used as the base for the oil paintings, referencing the sails on the boats and the soaring sounds of the sea birds. I explained my varied approach to painting application and my layering techniques and the negative spaces within the sculpture that inspired shapes and forms on the canvas surface.

The event was a success with many visitors and a fantastic opportunity to showcase creative work inspired by the stunning Anthony Caro sculpture. It was fantastic to have such an amazing brief with which to approach an artist residency in such a beautiful setting. Thank you to everyone involved for a fantastic residency opportunity and the chance to show my work in the beautiful setting of Poole Museum. I am very proud of the exhibition and I hope everyone can go to see it before it closes on 7th January 2018!


It’s just over a week until my paintings can be seen in an exhibition at Poole Museum so here is a small insight into the artwork produced for the residency. The second painting (image details below) is 1m70cm square.

The painting was developed through thin layers built up onto the canvas surface. The canvas was primed and painted whilst stretched and stapled to the wall – this allowed me to really push the thin layers into the canvas to encourage the development of a sense of depth to the work.  I wanted this painting to be more colourful and celebratory, having developed the previous painting after experiencing Poole on an impressively stormy and awe inspiring day. I was absolutely soaked, but it didn’t stop me from fully taking in the scene! As a result, the first painting reflected the power of the sea (in feel, not in a literal way), using darker greens and bold strokes to develop darker areas of depth on the canvas surface during the early stages of production. The celebratory feel of the work was set out from the very beginning when I was faced with blank canvas and a sudden urge to throw yellow at it – what joy! The painting developed from there, carefully maintaining areas of yellow, whilst obliterating other areas of yellow with pale washes, bold gestures depth and detail. The photos below show areas of the work both during production and upon completion. I have showcased every possible method of mark-making and surface development, creating a sense of depth, texture haziness, sharpness and what I like to call controlled and uncontrolled drippiness! Oil paints are full of possibilities and it is these possibilities that were so important to my creation of this artwork.



My inspiration for the work was every aspect of Poole Quay from the impactful Anthony Caro sculpture through to details on passing boats, shapes formed by ropes on beautiful ships and interestingly shaped cracks in the pavement seen from the viewing platform of the ‘Sea Music’ sculpture. Every aspect of an environment becomes a potential source in my artwork, however small or seemingly inconsequential. It is these details that really form an environment and create the unique atmosphere of the place. It is equally difficult for me not to be inspired by the sounds of the scene; the curious sounds coming from the factories on the other side of the Quay, the shouting of the people working on the boats travelling to and from Brownsea Island, the bustling chatter of the tourists taking in the scenery and most importantly for me, the open and joyous sound of seabirds calling overhead. As a lover of the sea, that sound is incredibly emotive to me, impacting on my mood and in turn, how I respond to the environment.

The exhibition opens with a private view on 21st October and can be seen right through to 7th January. I will be showing 2 large scale oil paintings shown on free hanging swathes of canvas, alongside 4 framed drawings (pencil, pen and ink with a hint of watercolour). Please go and see the work if you can! For anyone unable to visit the ‘Sea Music’ exhibition, I will include images of the work and the exhibition in a future blog.

I will also be running an oil painting workshop in November – check here and on twitter (@amybourbon) for details.

There’s nothing like a blank canvas, primed and ready to go! I’ve been quite bold with the size as the walls in the Poole Museum gallery space are 2 metres in height. The painting is 1m68cm – it should look imposing and impactful in the space! Who wants miniatures?!!!


Building up layers of oil paint to create a moody surface inspired by the sea at Poole Quay.


I will keep posting images of the painting as it develops.

I have had many responses via twitter asking for more information on my art residency at Poole Museum.

The focus of the residency is the stunning Anthony Caro sculpture on Poole Quay entitled ‘Sea Music’. The sculpture is his only site-specific commissioned work in Britain and acts as a focal point for the Quay. It has recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and undergone a significant refurbishment. I was appointed as Artist in Residence by Poole Museum, in partnership with Arts Council England. My aim is to celebrate the conservation of the sculpture through the application of my art practice.

I intend to study the sculpture as well as the environment it occupies, collecting source material not only from the sculpture itself but also from the ever-changing scenery of Poole Quay. My work will develop through photography, sketching and writing at the scene, culminating in larger-scale oil paintings developed in my studio. I will continue to post blogs on this website as well as through twitter, detailing the various stages of production – watch this space!

I will be available for a chat at a pub evening in Poole on 3rd October – keep an eye out for details! My finished artworks will be displayed in an exhibition at the museum from the  21st October.  I will also be running a ‘Make Sunday Special’ workshop on oil painting at the museum. The event will be fun and experimental so please come along! I’ll keep you up to date with more information on twitter (@AmyBourbon) and on my website blog!

I’m thrilled to be starting work as the Artist in Residence at Poole Museum!

The residency will focus on the Anthony Caro sculpture ‘Sea Music’, situated on the Quay in Poole. I intend to research and respond to the sculpture itself as well as the environment it occupies. I am looking forward to seeing how my work develops – keep up to date with developments here!