A life-size, 3-D, x-ray gorilla is the latest amazing creation of a major local project linking public art and conservation.

The sculpture has been painted black with its bones picked out in dramatic ghostly white to give the appearance of an x-ray.

The striking creation is the latest design in The Great Gorillas Project, which is celebrating the 90th birthday of Paignton Zoo and raising funds for charity.

Paignton Zoo Director of Marketing & Development Pippa Craddock said: “The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust ran a staff competition to design a gorilla. The winning entry is by Reserves Warden Dave Ellacott, whose ‘X-Ray Ape’ beat numerous other entries. It is a striking and unusual design – it looks amazing.”

As Reserves Warden for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, Dave’s job is to look after the Primley and Clennon Gorge nature reserves close by Paignton Zoo. At various times he can be found chain-sawing, mowing, coppicing, putting up nest boxes or working with school groups. He has been in the post for 12 years and loves it. But what about art?

“While I can’t draw anything more complicated than stick men, I do like to make stuff.  I do leather work - watch straps, wrist bands and so on – and I like to construct rustic wooden furniture using scrap wood or locally-sourced timber. The more I use unwanted materials the better - people call it up-cycling, but I just see it as basic common sense!” 

Dave has also dabbled with chainsaw carving and once made a life-size wooden crocodile. Where did the inspiration for his gorilla come from? “I’ve always been fascinated by x-rays of myself when I go to the hospital, so perhaps that was in the back of my mind!”

His design was transferred onto one of the three-dimensional sculptures by Paignton Zoo artist Sue Misselbrook. Dave’s gorilla is being sponsored by Paignton Zoo and will be placed in Exeter in the summer as part of The Great Gorillas trail.

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. For more information to go www.greatgorillas.org.uk.

Quotes Loads to see and do, for a full day out. Quotes