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WATCH: 'Monkey Business' on the Gorilla trail

WATCH: 'Monkey Business' on the Gorilla trail

Tuesday 04 June 2019

WATCH: 'Monkey Business' on the Gorilla trail

What do you get when you mix a life-size gorilla sculpture, and an island known for international finance?

Whisper it quietly, but for Donna Newman, a freelance mural artist based in Birmingham, the answer is 'Monkey Business': a gorilla clad in a smart shirt, tie and braces.

The design - which will be revealed in full along with the other 40 gorillas at the end of July - was picked for the gorilla sponsored by Bailiwick Express, which is supporting the 'Go Wild Gorillas' initiative as its media partner.

Launched to mark the 60th anniversary of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in partnership with 'Wild in Art', the sculpture trail will see 40 life-size gorilla sculptures, and their 44 ‘young’ counterparts, displayed around the island in a bid to raise funds for a state-of-the-art new gorilla house at Jersey Zoo. 


Pictured: 40 life-size gorilla sculptures will be displayed around the island at the end of July.

Local and international artists submitted their own designs for the gorillas which were then presented to sponsors to select their own unique piece of artwork. The successful artists were then commissioned to customise each sculpture. 

Trained as a painter at Coventry University, Donna is no stranger to sculpture trails. While she has mainly been working in schools in her region for the past 12 years, she has worked closely with Wild in Art on several commissions. 


Pictured: Donna has taken part in a number of sculpture trails in the past.

When she heard of the 'Go Wild Gorilla' trail, she jumped on the opportunity to get out of her home-based studio and visit Jersey for the first time. "I kinda lookout for new trails coming up," Donna explained. "It was such something a bit different to be able to go to an island and paint a gorilla. It was one I just thought would be nice to apply for."

Admitting an inkling for "play on words and catchy titles," Donna designed 'Monkey Business' as a tribute to the island's finance industry. "Looking sharp and dapper in his shirt, tie and braces, Mr G.Rilla is ready for big business," Donna said.

Video: A sneak peek at 'Monkey Business' the gorilla sponsored by Express.

"Everyone likes a good pun," she added. "I like to kind of do quite fun and amusing designs so I kind of just did my research about Jersey and about what there is in the island.

"It’s obviously quite well-known for being quite big with finance and business so I just thought it was a good kind of play on words really! And he was kind of a bit inspired by that kind of Alan Sugar kind of business man type. So that’s kind of where the idea came from."


Pictured: Donna at work on 'Monkey Business.'

Donna has also designed another gorilla, whose name 'Ape-iary' is also a play on words. Sponsored by the Parish of St. Helier, it is inspired by honey bees and wildflowers on the island. "It's all to do with a conservation message, so it's linked with Durrell's message," Donna explained. "My husband keeps bees so back in the UK we have three beehives. It's a bit of a passion of mine."

While she has previously painted bears, giraffes and bees, Donna had never worked on a gorilla and found the volumes hard to navigate at times. "They are not the easiest things to paint," she said, adding that she worked for around 40 hours on her gorillas.


Pictured: A detail of 'Ape-iary,' Donna's second gorilla sponsored by the Parish of St. Helier.

"I’ve done a few now so you can kind of start to think a bit more when you’re designing about the 3D element. Obviously you design it on paper, on a 2D sheet of A4 with a template and that’s obviously very different to the 3D sculptures. When you’re designing, I try and think about actually painting it in the 3D and how things are going to translate into the form, which areas are good for putting detail and perhaps which areas are good for leaving a bit more sparse.

"So under the stomach and things where you are not going to see a lot you perhaps wouldn’t put quite so much detail in there. I think I’ve learned that going along and do more sculptures!"


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