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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Giant coloured gorillas heading for Llan


* The troop of gorillas making their way to Llangollen.

A troop of giant multi-coloured gorillas will stand guard over this year’s Llangollen International Music festival.

The 10 sheet metal gorillas, standing 6ft tall and weighing nearly 16 stone, will go on show for the first time when the iconic festival of singing and dancing gets underway on Tuesday, July 7.

The spectacular primates, each clutching a huge bunch of bananas, have been created at the British Ironwork Centre near Oswestry.

After Llangollen, the gorillas will be taken on  a tour of festivals across the UK.
Their creator is Clive Knowles, 53, chairman of the British Ironwork Centre, who are supporting this year's Eisteddfod.

Last year a single giant gorilla sculpture made from 20,000 caused a sensation on the Llangollen Eisteddfod field and Clive is expecting an even bigger reaction this time.

He said: “The original spoon gorilla was designed and created as a result of a challenge I was set by Uri Geller. We were making some Victorian lampposts for his driveway and he was visiting the site when he challenged me to use spoons to make a giant gorilla.

“Well, we managed it, and used 20,000 metal spoons in the process. Uri Geller came to Oswestry to unveil the sculpture along with Prince Michael of Kent.

“They were both amazed and Uri Geller couldn’t believe what we’d achieved. To be fair, there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. That sculpture was such a massive hit and was on TV reports around the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe and the US to China.

“It’s now on a tour of hospitals and hospices all around the UK. So I decided to make a whole troop of gorillas, but out of colourful metals, and adopt the gorilla as our signature sculpture.

“All the new gorillas are made from sheet metal discs which are individually hand-beaten. I designed them; my history is in art, design and metal work. Each one takes six weeks to complete, we have four metal workers on the task, and we started making the troop in June of last year.”

He added: “After Llangollen they will also go on a tour of the UK and are set for the Great Gorilla Run in London in September. That’s an event that raises funds for gorilla conservation in the wild.

“But, other than here at the British Iron Works Centre, their first public appearance will be at Llangollen. I’m proud to be associated with the International Music Eisteddfod, it’s such a unique and wonderful event.

“The atmosphere is just fabulous and the fact the ethos is all about peace and harmony is just wonderful. Children are incredibly drawn to the gorillas and that’s why I wanted to make the troop colourful and fun.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction when Eisteddfod visitors see the gorilla troop. They really are striking.”

Other big draws during Eisteddfod week include Oscar-winning music legend Burt Bacharach, the immensely popular Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, heart-throb tenor Alfie Boe and TV choirmaster Gareth Malone.
 
There will also be the world premiere of a new work to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh colony in Patagonia in a concert that will also star former royal harpist Catrin Finch.
 
Other big draws during Eisteddfod week include Oscar-winning music legend Burt Bacharach, the immensely popular Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, heart-throb tenor Alfie Boe and TV choirmaster Gareth Malone.
 
There will also be the world premiere of a new work to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh colony in Patagonia in a concert that will also star former royal harpist Catrin Finch.
 
The Eisteddfod's musical director said: "We have a really exciting programme this year that is going to once again transform the beautiful town of Llangollen into a multi-coloured melting pot of music and dance.

"And this year visitors will be given an even more spectacular welcome thanks to the troop of giant multi-coloured gorillas. They are going to give us even more wow factor."
According to Clive Knowles, his next project is also massive.

He said: “With the backing of the Home Office we are currently working with all 43 British police forces and supplying them with boxes so the public can dispose of blades and weapons as part on an amnesty.

“We then intend to build a 24ft high angel out of the weapons as a monument against aggression and violence.

“It’s our intention Chief Constables, Police and Crime Commissioners, former offenders and prisoners, victim support workers and so forth will come to Oswestry and each weld a knife, or other weapon, into place as part of the sculpture.”

He added: “We want the sculpture to be made of 100,000 blades and knives that will, as a result of amnesties, have been removed from UK streets. We have started on the angel but its design is being kept secret and we hope to have it unveiled by a senior member of the Royal Family.

“It will be going on show on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square once it’s complete which will be wonderful. It’s all about getting every UK police force to embrace the idea and work with us so we have the materials to work with.

“We hope to have the angel finished by the end of the year or early in the New Year. In the mean time I know our troop of giant gorillas is going to be a massive hit at Llangollen. I can’t wait to see the reaction.”     

* To book tickets for Llangollen International Musical Festival and for more details about what's on go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk  
 

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