Shropshire

Uri Geller spoon gorilla statue unveiled

A huge gorilla statue made entirely of spoons for entertainer Uri Geller has been unveiled by Prince Michael of Kent.

The 12ft-high (3.6m) statue features about 40,000 spoons and has taken almost five months to build at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry.

The spoons have been donated from across the world, as well as local schoolchildren.

It is due to be transported to Mr Geller's home in Berkshire on 28 May.

It was hoped the statue could be transported to Berkshire by helicopter, but after safety fears, the Ironworks Centre said the TV production company behind Shipping Wars had stepped forward to help.

While Mr Geller laid down the challenge of creating a giant gorilla, Clive Knowles, managing director of the British Ironworks Centre, said it had been built for the nation and funded by the firm.

He said he was hoping the statue would ultimately live somewhere more accessible to the public and that the firm was in contact with Great Ormond Street Hospital as a possible location.

Many of the spoons have been sent from as far away as China, India, Kenya, Tahiti and Armenia.

Mr Geller, a friend of Prince Michael, himself donated a spoon once owned by Winston Churchill.

Speaking at the unveiling, in front of a large crowd, Mr Geller described the statue as "an amazing piece of art".

He said: "This will not raise money for charity. It will do something better. It will amaze sick children."

"I am not going to look at the gorilla too hard in case the spoons bend," he added

"It has been an amazing day and Clive has made the impossible possible.

Uri Geller said he had donated a spoon owned by Winston Churchill to be used in the statue
The project has taken almost five months to complete

Sculptor Alfie Bradley, who has hand-welded every spoon to the statue, said he had been amazed at how the appeal for cutlery had taken off on social media.

"Initially we thought we only needed 5,000 spoons, but it's incredibly hard to calculate and it turned out we actually needed 40,000," he said.

"It's been incredibly repetitive, but it's been a challenge. The spoons have been different sizes, different metals."

'Immense appetite'

He said the project had given him "sleepless nights" and now "just the word 'spoon' is enough to drive me crazy".

Mr Bradley added that the gorilla's pose, with one fist breaking out of a cage, had been inspired by the film King Kong.

Due to the number of spoons donated by schoolchildren across the world, he said he had come to think of the statue as "a protector" of children.

Teams from the centre have given presentations at schools in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire in an appeal for spoons, but the firm soon looked overseas.

Mr Knowles said he believed the past five months had cost the firm about £120,000 in staff time, but described it as an "exciting rollercoaster of a ride".

He said the experience had given the firm "an immense appetite to do something even better" and appealed to the public to suggest a new project that would "celebrate Britain".

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