Local artists are being offered the rare opportunity to paint a life-size gorilla.

The extraordinary prospect comes from The Great Gorillas Project, which is marking the 90th birthday of Paignton Zoo Environmental Park with a mix of community outreach and charity fundraising.

As part of the event, life-size gorilla sculptures are being sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter.

Both professionals and amateurs can submit designs.

Anna Gilroy from Creative Torbay: “We hope people will be inspired by the challenge of a three-dimensional canvas and of being involved in such an exciting project for Torbay. We want to encourage local artists to submit designs - the best will be chosen to go on the gorillas. This will be a wonderful showcase for artistic talent.”

The sculptures are 120cms long, 140cms high and 60cms wide and weigh around 30 kilos. Artists cannot use company branding or logos or employ blatant commercial, sexual or political designs. Sponsors will choose designs from among the entries received.

Anna added: “Anyone can apply – art students, people who simply love to design in their spare time – the competition is open to all! Artists can submit as many ideas as they like, but they have to be able to translate those ideas onto the gorilla themselves. Anyone who is selected to take part will receive an honorarium of £800.”

The Great Gorillas Project is a thank you from Paignton Zoo to the community. Partners include Torbay Council, CreativeTorbay.com, the Torbay Town Centres Company, Exeter City Council, the English Riviera Tourism Company and Wild in Art, a leading public art company.

Budding artists can download an application pack from http://www.greatgorillas.org.uk/get-involved/artists

The artists have until Friday 4th January 2013 to apply. A public painting space will open from February so that people can watch the work in progress. All artist enquiries should go to [email protected]

Paignton Zoo Director of Marketing & Development Pippa Craddock said: “The project is an amazing mix of art, education, conservation and public engagement. The funds raised will be used by Paignton Zoo to support gorilla and conservation projects and a local community project.”

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