Gromit Unleashed: 500 apply to decorate Gromit sculptures for Bristol
MORE than 500 artists from across the globe have submitted designs to decorate the Gromit statues bound for the streets of Bristol this summer.
The Post understands that some famous names will be among those painting sculptures of the popular dog as part of Gromit Unleashed.
Submissions for the arts trail, which will see 70 giant sculptures of the Aardman Animations character springing up across the city for ten weeks, came from as far afield as Malaysia, California, Wisconsin, New York, Poland and Italy.
Although details of all the artists who will be involved have yet to be confirmed, organisers have already revealed that Raymond Briggs, the man behind The Snowman, and Axel Scheffler, who drew children's favourite The Gruffalo, are on board.
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And interest from visitors to the arts trail is also going global.
Gromit Unleashed and Destination Bristol have heard from people in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, the United States and South East Asia interested in coming to Bristol to see the decorated dogs – with some having already booked their flights.
The project, which will see 5ft Gromit statues taking up residence across the city, is part of a collaboration between Aardman and Bristol Children's Hospital charity Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal.
The statues, which have already started arriving in Bristol, will be auctioned off in the autumn for the charity's £3.5 million appeal for state-of-the-art equipment and improved facilities at the hospital.
Demand from businesses to sponsor the Gromits was so great that an extra ten were added to the trail.
And so many artists wanted to get involved with the project that submissions had to be extended by three days, with more than 100 hand- delivered to the Grand Appeal in the final hours.
The Gromit Unleashed team will go through all the designs and will tell artists next month whether their designs have been successful. The sculptures will then be decorated during April and May before appearing around the city from July 1.
Grand Appeal fundraising manager Lauren Vincent said: "We were so excited to get submissions from all over the world. Although we thought we might get a few from Europe, I don't think we expected it to be international. There are a lot from the Bristol area and there will be a significant amount of Bristol artists involved.
"A lot of people have sent us e-mails and messages on Facebook saying they are booking their holidays and flights from all over the world to come to Bristol for Gromit Unleashed. It is really exciting that they are already planning their holidays around it. We have heard from Germany and a couple of huge Wallace and Gromit fans from America too.
"We wanted to give the people of Bristol and beyond something to look forward to this year after the royal wedding and then the Olympics and, for the Grand Appeal, this is the biggest event we have ever done.
"We have got £3.5 million to raise and need a huge project that's going to significantly contribute to that."
Charlie Langhorne, director of Wild in Art, which is helping to run the project having done similar art trails across the UK and the world including the Bristol gorillas, said: "One of the great things about Gromit is that he is such a character already. Everyone has grown up with Gromit, whether you are five or close to 50, and that is a good starting point.
"I also think for some artists that would be quite daunting. Nick Park has created this icon and it is extraordinary that he has allowed other people to go and play with his baby."
He said that the Superlambanana sculptures, based on a Liverpool statue that went up around the city in 2008, brought £44 million and one million visitors into the area.
"I can see no reason why that would not be equalled if not surpassed with the Gromits," he said.
Destination Bristol said that it was too early to quantify the interest of overseas visitors in Gromit Unleashed but said there had been a positive response to the project in Denmark, China, the United States and Scandinavia. The city's tourism team is working closely with Visit England to market the project to the rest of the world.
Nick Park, Gromit's creator and a patron of the Grand Appeal, said: "I'm bowled over and rather touched by the incredible response to our appeal for artists for Gromit Unleashed. It's going to be a real challenge to select the final designs, given the quality and creativity of the submissions."