Harry Hill unveils Gromit sculpture in Bristol


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The Independent Culture

Comedian Harry Hill unveiled his giant sculpture of Gromit in Bristol - the popular plasticine dog from the animated series.

The three-time Bafta winner is an eager artist and his design is the first to be shown in Bristol as part of a Gromit Unleashed project.

The project, backed by Destination Bristol and VisitEngland, will see around 70 giant Gromits spring up across the city for 10 weeks from July 1.

The TV Burp presenter joked that he wanted his design to "raise awareness of male baldness".

He said: "Wallace and Gromit have world fame and are iconic British characters - it's like being given Mickey Mouse, you feel a certain responsibility before you start to splash the paint on.

"I decided my Gromit should raise awareness of male baldness.

"I'm not quite bald but I'm balding, so I've shaved Gromit back to his pink skin and put a bit of stubble on him.

He added: "I'll be sure to make every effort to come back for the trail. Bristol's a great city and you can't get a much better cause than raising money for a children's hospital."

His 1.5 metre high sculpture went on display at Wallace and Gromit's Aardman Studios in front of the character's creator Nick Park.

It is the first from around 40 artists local to Bristol, which will all be auctioned to raise money for Wallace & Gromit's Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children's Hospital Charity.

Hill, who has seven British Comedy awards, became a keen artist in recent years and had an exhibition at the Edinburgh Art Festival in 2012.

Wallace and Gromit's creator Nick Park said: "I've always loved Harry's work.

"When I found out he was an artist I thought who better to approach. He was so generous and immediately said yes.

"I'm incredibly precious about Gromit so it's been quite nerve wracking for me waiting to see what designs come back, but I think Harry's is quite stunning and funny.

"It's such an honour and a privilege that my creation is the focus of all this attention."

He then joked: "I can't quite come to terms with it. I think Wallace might be feeling a bit left out!"

Other sculptures by famous names include Gromit's creator Nick Park, Aardman co-founder Peter Lord, Raymond Briggs, the man behind The Snowman, Axel Scheffler, who drew the children's character The Gruffalo, and the inventor of the wind-up radio, Trevor Bayliss.

More than 500 designs were entered by artists from around the world.

Around 40 artists local to Bristol and the region have been selected to design a Gromit for the trail.

Bristol-based Vivi Cuevas has painted Gromit like a baboon, while Martin Band of Chester, has painted a Union Jack Gromit.

Wallace and Gromit's Grand Appeal has already pledged £3.5 million to support the expansion of Bristol Children's Hospital, helping to fund an intraoperative MRI scanner, family facilities, and children's artwork.

The Gromit Unleashed Project is being run with Wild in Art, an arts company which specialises in mass participation events in cities, and lasts from July 1 to September 7 in Bristol.

Harry Hill performed his live sell-out show Sausage Time at Bristol Colston Hall.