Around 90 hours’ work – many in freezing, winter conditions – went into creating artist Ian Gibson’s giraffe sculpture for Worcester Stands Tall.
This experienced Worcestershire artist, used his giraffe as a canvas to explore Worcester’s buildings – creating a jumbled impression of the city’s architecture.
His design – titled Worceraffe – was chosen by sponsors Andrew Grant for its sculpture, which stands proud alongside 29 other large giraffes on the trail this summer.
To find out more about Mr Gibson and his work, read our Q&A:
How did you get involved with Worcester Stands Tall?
I happened to find out about the trail by seeing it mentioned on Twitter. It chimed with some of the ideas I had been using in my own recent painting work.
How do you feel to be a part of this project?
I naturally feel proud to have my work used in this project as it publicises a worthy county-based charity. It is also a chance for my work to be seen by a lot of people in the city of Worcester.
Have you painted a sculpture for a Wild in Art trail before?
Whilst I have painted a large variety of subjects in my career this is the first three dimensional sculpture so this was definitely a new experience. I ordered a lot of acrylic paint as I was not sure how much would be needed but it turned out I have enough left to cover another two sculptures at least!
Tell me a little bit about your background as an artist
My background as an artist is varied. Architecture and animals have been constant subjects in my work and I have always painted commissioned portraits of animals. Also I used to specialise in painting watercolour scenes of towns and villages and this led to architectural illustration and artist’s impression work. I have painted many transport subjects such as cars, aircraft and especially railways too. In recent years I have produced dozens of surreal compositions which are really artist’s impressions of wild improbable structures composed of buildings and landscape.
How would you describe your work?
To describe my work, the common theme is that I love painting things to look as realistic as possible but without hiding the brush or pen work so I am not trying to imitate a photograph. This could be seen as a limitation these days where tastes in art have changed to encompass high levels of colour and abstraction. The strength of my way of painting is that I can painstakingly build up a naturalistic painting of something very strange and attention grabbing, even though the painting technique is traditional. This contradiction appeals to me and I know there are people who appreciate what I do such as Stone Gallery in Burford in the Cotswolds where my paintings sell regularly.
What inspired your giraffe design?
The inspiration for my giraffe design is my painting entitled Wobbly Worcester. This was produced a few years ago for an exhibition in the city and it consisted of some interesting old buildings in Worcester that I turned into a strange V shaped structure. This gave me some finished images to manipulate to illustrate my design application.
What has it been like decorating an 8ft tall giraffe?
Decorating an 8ft tall giraffe has been about as difficult as I expected. The buildings in the composition were much bigger than in my canvas paintings and I realised that I needed to paint more broadly than usual so as not to take too long. Small brushes were still required to do the finishing details so in all it took about 90 hours. I had checked the roof height of my garage/studio and although the giraffe stood upright between the joists I had to tilt the beast over onto its side to finish the head properly. It seems a long time ago now in the heat of the summer but because I thought my design would take a long time I got painting as soon as the sculpture arrived and unfortunately almost straight away the second big freeze of the spring started. Blocking up the gaps around the big door and setting up a heater seemed to make little difference and a lot of the early preparatory painting was done wearing gloves, a novel experience.
What are you most excited about for the trail this summer?
What excites me most about the art trail is seeing as many of the giraffes as possible in their allotted spaces and getting a feel of how they fit into the cityscape. I have photos of my finished giraffe in my garden surrounded by trees, shrubbery and lawn so it will be fascinating to compare this view with pictures of it in a street scene.