After 10 weeks spent out in the glare of the summer sunshine, not to mention public attention and the occasional rain shower, the Great Gorillas created to help mark Paignton Zoo’s 90th birthday go under the auctioneer’s hammer. And Plastic Surgeon has been closely involved in making sure the whole troop look their best for the prospective new owners.
The scheme was dreamt up to raise money to help protect one of Africa’s most endangered species of ape – the Cross River Gorillas of which only some 300 survive – as well as to fund a children’s hospice in Devon. 30 of the glass fibre sculptures, all individually decorated in designs picked by their different sponsors, have been installed in prominent locations across the county: including Brixham seafront, Torquay, Paignton and Exeter’s Cathedral Green.
Inevitably, however, having countless small children and the occasional boisterous drunk clambering over them did take its toll; though, fortunately, Paignton Zoo had arranged with Plastic Surgeon as one of the region’s blue chip businesses and a repair expert, to keep a watchful eye on the models and put right any damage.
The Director of Marketing and Development for Paignton Zoo, Pippa Craddock, comments: “The zoo’s 90th Birthday Great Gorillas Project saw the models being displayed from the 3rd of August to the 13th of October after which they were all brought back to the zoo here to get them ready for the charity auction; though they have been ‘well loved’.
“Plastic Surgeon as one of our sponsors-in-kind for the scheme, provided a ‘Gorilla Preservation Squad’ that had a list of where they were all located, and kept an eye on them as the Finishers were going around the area. Then there was also a number for people to call if they spotted one of them was getting in a state. Plastic Surgeon was incredibly efficient in keeping them looking their best, which is why the original artists have had relatively little work to do since they were collected together back at the zoo.”
The extent of the repairs carried out by Plastic Surgeon’s highly skilled Finishers ranged from polishing out light scratches to having to repair a hole made right through the body of ‘Bob’, one of the models located in Brixham.
Chris Garner, the Finisher who carried out the majority of the repairs takes up the account, saying: “In some cases, where the damage was limited to scuffs and small scratches from kids’ feet I was able to just polish out the marks; but in several cases full “Smart Repairs” were necessary. These would involve filling gouges and the like with our Ultra-Premium filler to bring them level with the surrounding body, and then smoothing them back. Then because there was no power available where they were located, I had to hand paint in the colours, mixed to match the surrounding surface from the wide range of tints and pigments carried on the van.
“In the case of the one which had a hole punched through the back, I made use of our fibre filler to bridge the gap and then followed that with Ultra-Premium filler to get the profile built back. Then when I had rubbed it down to get the profile right, I painted in all the areas of red, blue, sky blue and orange. Altogether that repair took me over three hours while myself and the other Finishers involved carried out repairs to over a dozen of the gorillas in all.”
More than £1,000 has already been raised through the 16 local Weatherspoons pubs across South Devon have who made a donation for every pint of Gorilla Ale they sold, while a smaller model was turned into a giant piece of confectionery by the Cockington Chocolate Company and raffled.
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