Wow! Gorillas in Bristol
Wow! Gorillas is an outdoor art event featuring over sixty painted gorilla sculptures throughout Bristol. The gorillas have been placed in Bristol for the summer, and their last day will be on September 6th. (After September 6th, they will all be shown on display in Bristol Zoo.) In short, Wow! Gorillas is a charity event, and it has been brought together to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Bristol Zoo. Wow! Gorillas aims to provide funding for gorilla conservation (and education about gorillas) and to raise funds for a local Bristol charity. The event brings community, business, and the arts together. The gorillas have been painted by local artists.
Last year, London hosted a similar event for elephant conservation, and Bath sponsored a lion conservation event with near life-size sculptures of the animals around the respective cities. (I blogged about these here: Spot the Lions in Bath and Parading Artistic Elephants in London.)
I visited the gorillas in Bristol at the weekend. Fortunately, the weather was warm and sunny, despite a couple of quick downpours; however, cupcakes were devoured during this time at a lovely cupcake shop near the cathedral. Many other families, groups, and couples had the same plan to go gorilla-spotting. Some cycled, and others walked, and many drove to the ones further afield; it was a great way to see the city and to get some exercise. Both children and adults were drawn to the painted gorillas, and locating them was addictive. Also, strangers were quite chatty with others on the same mission.
As an artist, I appreciate art bringing the community together and educating and supporting a good cause. With so many others visiting the gorillas, it really does show that the community are interested in the arts. I was also glad to see that many of the sculptures were not badly damaged; some had been written on or chipped, but overall, they seem to be mainly unharmed.
In addition to bringing the community together, technology has also been brought together to make the gorilla-searching even more enjoyable. A mobile application can be downloaded to track the gorillas via GPS technology and to allow the user to mark them off the list when the gorilla is discovered. A photograph can also be taken with the device, which will upload the image with the information about the specific gorilla. The gorillas can only be marked as discovered in the application when the mobile is within a certain distance so that users do not 'cheat'. The ability to follow the gorilla trail on a GPS application made the process easier and more enjoyable, with the ability to plot which gorillas still need to be found on the application's map.
Last year, the Bath lions used a mobile application, but it was not nearly as advanced and it only plotted the images of the lions on a map without GPS based on the user's location, so this is definitely a step up and nearly everyone was using a mobile device to photograph the gorilla.
A few photographs of Wow! Gorillas are below, and more information about them can be read at: http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/wow-gorillas
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