When artist Rob Catterall decided to paint a life-size three-dimensional gorilla, there was only one design he could possibly choose – a dragon. Rob has been obsessed with the fantastical flying beasts since he was little. Now, he’s decorated a life-size gorilla for Paignton Zoo’s Great Gorillas Project, which is celebrating the Zoo’s 90th birthday. Life-size model gorillas are being sponsored by businesses and community groups, painted in original designs by specially-commissioned artists and displayed in public, creating a unique art trail around Torbay and Exeter. Robert, from Plymouth, said: “When I was younger I wanted more than anything to ride a dragon! I quite like heights, rope swings and that sort of losing-your-stomach feeling, so flying was the most exhilarating thing that I could think of. But to ride a dragon was so much better than any other animal, they're pretty bad ass!” Dragilla, painted on behalf of South Devon building supplies company Inter-Line, is green and comes complete with wings, scales, horns and pointy teeth. He has been painted in public at the Guildhall Shopping Centre in Exeter. Why did Inter-Line choose Rob’s dragon design? Jason Winser, from Inter-line, explained: “We thought it was a fun design and one that would appeal to adults and children alike. I am amazed at how the artist has brought him to life and given him his own personality. “Inter-Line are very proud of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme, we thought The Great Gorilla Project would be a great addition to that programme and we also thought it would be a great way to involve our employees. We have some team-focused challenges planned around the gorilla project this summer!” Rob studied art in Nottingham and Bristol, graduating in 2012. “As a child I loved to draw dragons and anytime that I got near paints it usually ended up with me trying to cover my face in scales and big green smears! This is my first big job, it’s a really exciting opportunity!” Sadly for Rob, Paignton Zoo does not keep dragons, but it is home to five male lowland gorillas - 30 year old Pertinax, Kiondo and Kivu who are 10; and N’Dowe and Matadi who are both 9.
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