If you go down to Wild Place Project next weekend, you’re sure of a big surprise. For 20 life-sized bear sculptures have been unveiled at the attraction, each featuring an arty disguise.
Their reveal comes ahead of the launch of the ‘Big Bear Sculpture Trail’, where 6-foot bears will be positioned amongst exotic animal houses at Wild Place Project from Saturday 6th April.
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The 3D sculptures all feature fun designs including ‘Builder Bear’, who sports a bright yellow hardhat and hi-vis jacket; ‘Bristol Bears’, who is kitted out in the Bristol Bear’s rugby gear; and ‘Sunset Bear’, which celebrates Bristol, its people, and the Great British summer.
Others include ‘Bear'get our Ninja On’, painted by Bristol-based CBBC Art Ninja presenter, Ricky Martin, as well as abstract and storytelling bears, which include a European folk bear, an explorer, and an operatic bear humorously named ‘Enrico Bearuso’.
The trail has been organised and managed by Bristol Zoological Society – the charity that owns and runs Wild Place Project – alongside Wild in Art – an organisation that produces popular art events which entertain, inform, enrich and leave a lasting legacy.
Ben Reed, Head of Creative Development at Wild in Art, said: “Wild in Art developed the hugely successful Wow! Gorillas trail with Bristol Zoo Gardens in 2011, to celebrate the Zoo’s 175th birthday. It’s great to be back at its sister site Wild Place Project, and working with them to help support their vision of creating a sustainable future for wildlife and people.”
Donna Newman, an artist who has taken part in a number of Wild in Art events and who has painted two of the bears, said: 'I am lucky enough to have painted many different animals for Wild in Art trails, from bears and bees to dragons and giraffes, but each sculpture is unique and presents a creative challenge.
“I'm really proud of the designs I've created for the Big Bear Sculpture Trail and am so excited to see them enjoyed at Wild Place Project this Easter.”
The trail has been put on to celebrate Wild Place Project’s newest exhibit, Bear Wood, which opens this summer. Bear Wood is a seven and a half acre exhibit which will house European brown bear, wolverine, lynx and wolves.
Each of the 20 bears has been sponsored by generous local businesses and individuals who are all making their mark on a unique piece of art that will engage and educate visitors to Wild Place throughout the summer.
Sponsors currently include: E.L.M Legal Services, Gemini, UWE, Dribuild, Burger Bear, Hollis Morgan, Bristol Sport, Cedar Care, Elmtree Garden Contractors Ltd as well as a number of individuals and businesses.
Jenny Stoves, guest services manager at Wild Place Project, said: “We are so excited to be unveiling the bears today and look forward to sharing them with our visitors from next week onwards. It promises to be an exciting discovery trail around the attraction, and a wonderful prelude to the arrival of real bears later this year.”
There are four mini bear trails, each featuring five of the 20 bears, and people will receive a sticker before moving on to the next.
From April 6, the first bear can be found at Wild Place Project’s main entrance with the others hiding amongst exotic animal houses and beautiful flora and fauna at the attraction, located just off J17 of the M5 (Easter Compton).
Bear Wood, which will open the summer, will house European brown bears, wolves, wolverine and lynx in ancient woodland at Wild Place Project, where they would have once roamed, thousands of years ago.
Visitors will be able to walk through the exhibit on a raised walkway that will wind its way through the trees. New, 180-degree, floor-to-ceiling glass viewing areas and ‘dens’ will give visitors an up-close view of the animals living alongside each other in British woodland as they would have done in years gone by.
All funds raised during the trail will go towards preserving the vital woodland habitat for future generations to enjoy.
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We'd love to see your snaps of our Big Bear Sculpture Trail, upload photos of your favourite bear to social media, using the hashtag: #BigBearSculptureTrail