Gromit Unleashed – the summer-long, city-wide event featuring 80 giant, decorated Gromit statues – has by all accounts been a tremendous success for Bristol. With the closing exhibition The Greatest Dog Show On Earth currently generating record-breaking queues and the much-anticipated auction coming up, I’ve decided to share my rejected design.
I had worked with Gromit once before, when he and Wallace were selected to be in a group portrait of famous Bristolians a few years ago. (At the head of this post is the drawing I sent to Aardman Animations for approval before painting began.)
Until just before the Gromit Unleashed submissions deadline I was resigned to missing out due to work commitments, despite my affection for Gromit and admiration for Aardman’s work. However, at the last minute an idea came to me which I couldn’t ignore and I spent a very long weekend working up a proposal.
A Gromit statue would, I thought, be an ideal vehicle for celebrating Bristol’s history of achievement in the field of film – from pioneering inventions at the dawn of cinematography, right up to present day innovations in short film, animation and interactive media. I came up with a design which had Gromit entangled in a long strip of celluloid, with the frames telling the story of the city’s cinematic successes. Here’s a quote from my proposal:
Each frame of the film strip is a small acrylic illustration relating to Bristol’s long association with moving pictures. When read together, these paintings form a narrative sequence, a brief tour of Bristol’s film history starting at the tail with pioneer of cinema William Friese-Greene and moving through time to the Internet and 3D. The evolution of cinematography from grainy black & white to full colour is reflected in Gromit’s paintwork – the grey of his rear end fades to a faithful representation of his familiar colour at the front. Inspiration for this design comes from Gromit and Friese-Greene both being Bristolians involved in film and invention.
And here are some of the drawings I submitted.