Giant Gromit sculptures let loose in Bristol for arts trail

Giant Gromit sculptures unveiled in Bristol Four finished designs by British designers Sir Paul Smith and Cath Kidston, illustrator Simon Tofield and animator Richard Williams were revealed in April

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A series of giant Gromit sculptures, decorated by well-known celebrities and artists, are being "unleashed" in Bristol.

Eighty of the 5ft (1.5m) tall models of Aardman's famous canine character will form a "grand" arts trail.

Designs include those from Sir Quentin Blake, Cath Kidston, One Direction's Zayn Malik, The Beano and Harry Hill.

They will be on display for 10 weeks before being auctioned off in aid of the Bristol Children's Hospital.

Thirteen of the sculptures are being moved into their trail locations on Friday, with the rest put in place over the weekend.

To mark the occasion, Nick Park, creator of the Oscar-winning animated characters Wallace and Gromit, will drive the Harbour Steam Train into the City, loaded with a selection of the giant sculptures.

'Wacky designs'

"To see him this massive is incredible. I always thought Gromit would make it big, but not like this," Mr Park said.

"I was quite worried, because I'm quite fussy about Gromit, and I didn't know if he would make a very good blank canvas for the artists to work on.

"But I think I am more just honoured that he is being used.

"I am kind of relived that people have taken liberties with him, and Gromit is still somehow there, no matter what people have done - and [there are] all sorts of wacky designs - Gromit is still there underneath."

Jon Kay gets a sneak preview of the Gromits

Mr Park's own sculpture and US animation studio Pixar's Gromit are also due to be revealed for the first time.

The 80 models, which have been individually sponsored by businesses, will be auctioned off on 3 October to raise funds for Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal - the Bristol Children's Hospital charity.

'Raise awareness'

Artist Dan Shearn, who has painted two of the Gromits, was inspired to take part in the project after his son, Dylan, now five, was rushed to the Children's Hospital at birth and taken into surgery.

"Within ten hours he was being operated on, and they were amazing, they were great, the staff just really put us at ease the entire time we were there," he said.

"I just hope to raise as much money and as much awareness as possible for the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal, and I think that is the aim of all the other artists as well."

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal was formed 17 years ago after a public charity appeal to build a new children's hospital that enlisted the help of Bristol-based animation studio Aardman Animations.

It has pledged to raise an initial £3.5m for new equipment, including an intraoperative MRI scanner, family facilities and child-friendly artwork.

In 2011, a sale of gorilla statues - which had been displayed around the city - raised about £500,000 for charity.

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