It is all part of another Grand Adventure where Gromit has been captured by the city to promote itself. Called Gromit Unleashed, the sculptures will be dotted around for ten weeks to mark out a new art trail. Do not be put off by thinking this will lead you to highbrow sculpture or art around Bristol. Would Wallace and Gromit be interested in that? No, it links landmarks such as the suspension bridge so visitors who may only be in the city for a brief time can pick out some key spots. Or you can stay longer and see how long it takes to view all 70 sculptures.
Nick Park, the brilliant devisor of the Wensleydale eating duo, has created one of the sculptures himself, Raymond Briggs who wrote the children’s classic, the Snowman has created another as has Richard Williams who animated the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit has sculpted a third. Even Trevor Bayliss, the inventor of the wind-up radio has invented a sculpture for the event. This unusual group – unusual for names who might create public art – have been joined by more traditional artists such as Celia Birtwell, Paul Smith and Cath Kidston in the venture.
It seems to be part of a Bristol renaissance. In the last few years it has added museums, gentrified parts of the city, opened exciting new restaurants and hosts a couple of the best shopping centres around. It has been named as Green City of the Year and today it closes down to traffic part of the town centre in an attempt to encourage Bristolians – and visitors – to reclaim the centre. The mayor hopes that entertainment groups, funsters and even religious faiths might take advantage of this once-a-month closure might help to make Sunday’s a memorable day in the city. Wearing what some might consider to be the Wrong Trousers – green ones – he was blithely giving interviews to the media promoting the city and its new venture.
But I fancy that the 70 Gromits might become a Curse of the city. People will want them to remain after the ten weeks is up and it will be A Close Shave to see if they remain!
UPDATE: 30 June 2013. Only just positioned, one of the Gromits has been vandalised already. The Joanna Lumley designed one has had its tail docked by some idiot who can’t just admire and be amused by the statues but clearly wants a “hands-on approach.” Maybe Wallace could design a Cracking Contraption to punish the miscreant when caught!