Anger over removal of Freddie Mercury Go Go gorilla from Norwich art trail
06:35 09 July 2013
Members of the public have branded a decision to remove a fundraising Freddie Mercury gorilla from a Norwich art trail because it misrepresented the iconic singer’s image as “pathetic”.
Freddie “Radio Go Go Gorilla” was taken from his plinth outside of The Forum in Norwich yesterday after organisers of GoGoGorillas! - a fundraising art trail - were contacted by Mercury Phoenix Trust, an Aids charity set up in memory of the Queen singer who died in 1991.
The sculpture is one of 53 differently designed apes to have taken up residence at sites across the city part of the project which is raising funds for Break and Born Free’s project to help lowland gorillas in the Congo.
But the Mercury Phoenix Trust claimed the Freddie-like sculpture misrepresented the singer’s image and asked the gorilla be removed and repainted.
Dee McCarthy tweeted the charity “disappointed in times hard for all a charity ur size can’t help GoGo Gorillas, maybe you’ve forgotten what charity means”.
The charity was also contacted by Esther who tweeted: “how pathetic. Leave the Norwich gorillas alone”.
Jennifer Harrt tweeted: “Such a shame that you cannot support The Gorillas @GoGoGorillas :-(.”
While Paul Orton said: “Miserable corporatist attitude from Mercury Phoenix Trust. #freddiegorilla time to back down before all credibility gone.”
Discussions have taken place between project organisers and Brandbank, sponsors of Radio Go Go Gorilla, as to how the repainted primate will look when it rejoins the trail with an announcement expected today.However Andy Murray, who on Sunday became the first British male tennis player to win Wimbledon since 1936, and Steve Coogan’s comic creation Alan Partridge are both thought to be in the running.
A spokesman for Brandbank, a Norwich-based digital content company which sponsors the gorilla said they could not comment on the new design but admitted the sporting and comic icons had been discussed.
Martin Green, project manager of Go Go Gorillas, said he was disappointed to have to remove Freddie from the streets but was “carrying out the wishes” of another charity.
He said: “It’s half way through the trail and this is probably one of our most popular gorillas.
“It’s a sad day. The Mercury Phoenix Trust expressed an interest to us to remove the gorilla and that’s what we’ve done.”
Mr Green said it was not a copyright issue but more about the image of Freddie being put on to a gorilla which had resulted in the contact from the charity. Jayne Evans, marketing manager at The Forum, said: “It seems a shame because Freddie has been a popular attraction like all the gorillas here at The Forum. We will miss him but GoGoGorillas goes on.”
Mik Richardson, the Aylsham-based artist who painted Freddie, said: “I’m very disappointed, its quite a shame. It’s disappointing something more amicable couldn’t come of it.”
Mr Richardson, who will not get the chance to repaint the new-look gorilla himself as he does not have the time in the coming days, added: “For another charity to cause such a ruckus about something is a bit unsociable.”
That is also the view of scores of people who have taken to social media sites, including Twitter, to criticise the decision.
It has emerged the Mercury Phoenix Trust has endorsed a fibreglass ‘lookalike’ life-size lion, painted in Freddie’s iconic Live Aid white and yellow striped jacket and trousers, which appeared in South Africa in March as part of a pride of 30 lion statues in Cape Town as part of an event in aid of the Born Free Foundation.
No-one at the charity was available for comment.
As well as the 53 gorilla life-size sculptures on the trail there are also an additional 67 baby gorillas, painted by more than 60 local schools, making the public art trail the largest of its kind in England this summer.
For more details visit www.gogogorillas.co.uk