As much as we love to traipse around the capital, summertime usually throws up a few opportunities to venture further afield – so we didn’t hesitate to accept an invite last week to visit Bristol – one of the UK’s most creative cities, less than two hours away from London, and for the next 10 weeks, the home to Gromit Unleashed – a groundbreaking public art exhibition for adults and kids alike.
80 5ft “Gromits” have been dotted around the city – many based at some of Bristol’s leading attractions – and visitors can go on a hunt to discover their whereabouts. It’s worth the challenge too: the sculpture designs have had the creative input of many artists and celebrities including creator Nick Park, Where’s Wally creator Martin Handford and Cath Kidston – so they look pretty amazing. Plus, there’s at least three main trails you can follow which will take you around legendary landmarks and streets, giving you the chance to also see some of Bristol’s most striking street art (and maybe a Banksy, if you’re lucky enough!)
Armed with a map and a camera, my pal and I spent last Saturday tracking down as many Gromits we could in an hour, after waking up to discover a “Where’s Wallace” in the lobby of our hotel, the Marriott, on College Green. We then walked along the uber-hip Park Street – a brilliant, uphill stretch of cool cafes and boutiques – before ending up at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Here, we found “Tuten-Gromit” and “Newshound” – the one sculpture featuring Gromit’s best friend Wallace. Walking further up, along Queen’s Road towards the Victoria Rooms and the RWA Art Gallery, led us to Bushed and the stunning “Golden Gromit”, designed by mosaic artist Julie Vernon. We didn’t manage to locate the nearby “Vincent van Gromit”, but headed back down Park Street and to the Waterside to see a crowd eagerly congregating around the pirate-inspired “Sally Sea Dog”, which had just been placed in the area.
There’s no denying that Gromit Unleashed is a big deal for Bristol this summer, especially as all funds generated from the project go to the Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal , supporting the expansion of Bristol Children’s Hospital. So we’re definitely backing this “hip and arty” urban adventure that’s a brilliant excuse to leave the bustle of London for a day (or two!).
Gromit Unleashed runs until September 8th. For more information, visit www.gromitunleashed.org.uk