Photo gallery: Remember GoGoGorillas? 2015 is set to be Norwich’s year of the dragon
08:10 04 April 2014
From a colourful troop of apes to a clan of mythical fire-breathing beasts - the Evening News can exclusively reveal that 2015 is set to be the year of the dragon in our fine city.
The GoGoGorillas! trail through Norwich last year saw BatGrill, the Ape’d Crusader, Chromilla, Alan and the rest of the gorilla gang become the stars of Norwich’s summer.
Attracting an estimated one million visitors to the trail and raising more than £270,000 for children’s charity Break and the Born Free Foundation at auction, the project was a huge success story.
Now dragons have been named as the latest “GoGo” stars as Break and Wild in Art embark on organising a new trail for Norwich starting in June 2015.
And a special dragon sculpture has already been designed for the trail by Wild in Art’s creative director Chris Wilkinson.
The GoGoGorillas! effect in numbers
Bling Kong, The Ape’d Crusader, BatGrill, Optimus Primate and the rest of the 54 GoGoGorillas! were the stars of summer 2013 in Norwich.
Over 11 weeks from June to September they – and 67 baby gorillas created by Norfolk schoolchildren – decorated our fine city and an estimated one million people followed the trail.
At an auction hosted by Jake Humphrey and run by TW Gaze, the adult apes raised an impressive £272,300 for Break and wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. Freddie Radio GoGo Gorilla, representing Freddie Mercury, sold for £20,000 alone while the Norwich City-inspired Mr Carrow went for £17,000.
200,000 GoGoGorillas! trail maps were distributed and more than 11,000 families entered the GoGoGorillas! trail competition.
The EDP and Evening News created special souvenir playing cards – 2,500 decks sold in just one hour and there were several reprints due to the overwhelming popularity of the cards.
The EDP and Evening News’ online poll asking people to vote for their favourite gorilla attracted 45,347 hits, with the Alan Partridge-inspired gorilla being crowned king of the swingers.
A survey of nearly 2,500 people by Zing Insights found:
62% said GoGoGorillas! influenced their decision to visit Norwich.
71% stayed in Norwich for longer than they usually would because of GoGoGorillas!
Those who took part in the trail spent 61% more in the city.
50% of tourists were more likely to recommend Norwich to friends and family.
45% of tourists were more likely to visit Norwich again.
50% had explored parts of Norwich they wouldn’t normally visit.
43% agreed GoGoGorillas! had created a stronger sense of community in Norwich.
Martin Green, Break’s fundraising events manager and who led the GoGoGorillas! project, said: “GoGoGorillas! left a really superb legacy for Norwich so from our point of view it was important to do a another trail.
“Obviously we discussed lots and lots of different options in terms of polar bears, rabbits, ducks, all sorts of different things, but we always came back to the dragon.
“There’s a historical link with Norwich and the dragon and we thought it would the perfect sculpture for the trail.”
He said the hope is that these animals of legend will emulate the success of GoGoGorillas!, and he appealed for dragon sponsors and artists to get on board and help make GoGoDragons! an even bigger success story.
As well as the main adult dragon sculptures, GoGoDragons! will also involve some community and school projects.
Phil Goddard, deputy chief executive of Sheringham-based Break, said: “GoGoGorillas! was fantastic for Break. It raised a lot of money and we have got some good plans as to what we would like to do with that money. It also raised Break’s profile and it did a lot for the city of Norwich.
“What we want from GoGoDragons! is to replicate that but make it even more exciting and more engaging for the city of Norwich and Norfolk, and also as a charity we hope it will raise more money that can be spent on children, young people and their families. We are really excited about the prospect.”
Sally Ann Wilkinson, director of Wild in Art, said: “Wild in Art is delighted to be working with Break to bring GoGoDragons! to Norwich in 2015.
“This event will herald the arrival of the Norwich Dragon – a sculpture specifically designed to engage artists, people of all ages and communities in a summer-long celebration of Norwich and Norfolk’s rich cultural offer.”
• NORWICH’S LONG LINK WITH DRAGONS
Norwich has long had a link with dragons that goes back through the centuries.
Most recently the city celebrated its relationship with the fire-breathing beast at the Norwich Dragon Festival in February which was organised by Norwich HEART (Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust) with support from Norwich BID, The Forum and the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity. The festival, which was also held in 2009 and 2011, was packed full of dragon-themed activities celebrating the city’s dragon heritage.
The legend of St George, a dragon-slayer, is thought to have fuelled the country’s fascination with dragons and in Norwich, two churches bear his name: St George, Tombland, and St George, Colegate. St George and the dragon can also be seen elsewhere in the city, including in a 15th century mural in St Gregory’s Church.
The Guild of St George is said to be credited with establishing a significant role for dragons in Norwich. It was founded as a religious guild in the 14th century to observe St George’s Day and became one of the city’s most powerful and wealthy guilds, developing close ties to the city government.
The Guild of St George introduced its annual procession – Guild Day – on April 23, the date of the saint’s martyrdom. St George and Margaret, the maiden he rescued, were represented, and to bring the legend to life Snap the dragon was also introduced.
In the late 16th century Guild Day merged with the swearing-in of the city’s new mayor and, although St George and Margaret no longer featured in the procession, Snap remained.
The introduction of the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835 saw civic purse strings cut and much of the pomp and circumstance of the civic processions disappeared, but Snap continued to appear occasionally until 1850.
In 1997 the Norwich Whifflers revived Snap, whose traditional design is based on originals now in Norwich Castle Museum, and Snap once more became part of the Lord Mayor’s celebration.
Dragon Hall is another one of the city’s links to the mythological beast - the Grade I listed medieval trading hall dates from about 1430 and it is known for its timber crown-post roof and intricately carved and painted dragon.
• Sponsor packs and artist packs will be available soon but in the meantime artists and sponsors can register their interest by contacting Martin Green, Break’s fundraising events manager on 01603 670107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Follow the GoGoDragons! on Facebook and on Twitter at @gogodragons2015. The GoGoDragons! website will also be set up in the future.