Go Wild Gorillas 'Sneak Peaks' - Meet Maria Tarrant

Marine biologist, an artist, a sculptress and an Oyster bar owner - this is Maria Tarrant, the Jersey-based artist who is designing the Sure gorilla for the Go Wild Gorillas project.

The project is a celebration of 60 years of Jersey Zoo’s dedication and commitment to our planet and protecting its species and ecosystems for future generations.

The project will see 40 life-sized gorilla sculptures form a public art trail around the island with each gorilla sponsored by a local business and designed by local and off-island artists. The idea is that these brightly coloured, artist-imagined sculptures will lead people on a trail of discovery, not only to see the gorillas themselves, but the nature in which they are placed.

Sure’s gorilla has been designed by Maria who, as well as having a degree in art and design, holds a degree in marine biology. Before moving to Jersey 16 years ago, Maria worked as a biologist and she now enjoys working as an artist while also setting up an Oyster Bar – she and her husband are also just starting up their own oyster farm on the island.

Sure is proud to be part of island life and we were keen to support Jersey Zoo, which does so much amazing work around the world that really puts Jersey on the map. Working with a local artist makes the project all the more special.

Maria told us about the way she’s approaching the design of our Gorilla: “The gorilla project is particularly interesting to me because it is actually more like working on a canvas - I am applying a design to an existing form rather than creating a 3D structure, which is how I usually work.

“I like art to be immersive and interactive, art is at its most compelling when it is a full sensory experience – that of smell, touch, sight and sound. Most importantly I like to tell stories through my work. It is about small narratives but they all take on the aesthetics of a bigger story - if that makes sense.”

Understandably Maria’s work usually draws on marine life and biology but for the Go Wild project she is looking above the water’s surface and over to Africa for her inspiration.

“I’m spending a few hours each day on my design for the Sure gorilla and the process is very enjoyable. I’m drawing heavily on African art and textiles for inspiration and I’m incorporating two designs into my gorilla. One that is visible only by day and the other which is only visible by night – I don’t want to give too much away!

“I will say that my final design captures a childlike innocence and sense of wonder. Really I wanted it to be positive and optimistic. It’s a happy message – one of love and acceptance.”

Francesca Vadher, head of marketing at Sure, said: “Maria only takes on one or two projects a year so we are especially grateful to be working with her on the Go Wild Gorillas project. The trail opens in July and runs for three months so keep your eyes peeled for Sure’s and Maria’s contribution.”

To find out more head to: www.gowildgorillas.org