They are more commonly seen in the wilds of Rwanda but a pair of gorillas are among the more unusual show-goers at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show.

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Decorated in images of Norfolk, Nelson and Half-Nelson are the colourful creations of Aylsham-based artist Mik Richardson, and at the show today they were unveiled by the charity Break as the first of an array of gorilla sculptures that are to descend upon Norwich next year.

GoGoGorillas! Norwich 2013 is hoping to emulate the success of the elephant art project that captured the imagination of the city a few years ago, and will take place all over Norwich during 10 weeks of summer 2013.

It is being brought to Norwich by Break, Wild in Art and The Born Free Foundation, and at the Thurlow Nunn Standen stand they launched an appeal for artists, sponsors and schools to join in with the fun.

“We have ape expectations for the project!” said Charlie Langhorne, director of Wild in Art which as well as doing the Norwich elephant art project has also brought colourful animal sculptures to communities all over the world.

He said originally there was talk of using canaries for the trail but instead it was decided to use gorillas.

“Gorillas are good, strong, powerful animals, and they can carry artwork well and are a nice big canvas,” he said.

“GoGoGorillas! will be a great second event following on from the success of the elephants in Norwich.

“We hope businesses and artists will get involved, embrace the fun of the project and remember the magic of the elephants,”

He added: “For businesses it is a great way to encourage footfall into the city centre, so often we hear of doom and gloom in city centres and this is something we know guarantees to bring people into cities.

“We encourage businesses to get involved and enjoy the project.

“For artists it is a great opportunity for them to show off their work to a huge, broad and diverse audience.

“One of the really exciting aspects of GoGoGorillas! also is that we want to engage with every single primary school in Norfolk.

“We have a great education pack that comes with a small gorilla that the children can paint and decorate.

“When the big gorillas are auctioned at the end of the GoGoGorillas! project the little gorillas will be returned to the schools for them to keep.”

Mr Richardson, the artist behind seven of the Norwich elephants, spent about 14 days creating the two gorillas - Nelson and Half-Nelson - which are decorated which iconic images of Norfolk including Norwich Cathedral complete with the perergrine falcons, Norwich City Football Club, The Broads, Norwich Market, Norfolk Lavender and poppies.

He said the gorillas were a great canvas to be creative with, and that he has more ideas to decorate some of the other gorillas.

Martin Green, Break fundraising officer and manager of the project for the charity, said: “From our point of view GoGoGorillas! is about raising our profile but also putting on a high quality event for Norfolk.

“The key thing is to bring people into the city, and we are taking this opportunity at the show to launch a call for sponsors and artists.

“There were 53 elephants and our target for the gorillas is 60 - although we hope to have 100!”

He said they have picked gorillas for the project because of the animal’s motherly instincts that draw a parallel to the charity’s work to support children, young people and families.

During the 10-week 2008 Wild in Art Go Elephants project in Norwich the Castle Mall had a 26pc increase in footfall while Pret a Manger saw a 16pc increase in sale.

Fifty-eight percent of Norwich residents and 45pc of non-residents surveyed said they made a specific visit to the city to see the exhibit.

Jarrold reported a 20pc increase in sales based upon their sponsorship of a sculpture.

When the elephants were auctioned, one sold for £25,000 with a significant amount of the proceeds donated to charity.

A similar art event in Liverpool saw one million people visit the sculpture trail and an increased spend of £41 million in Liverpool during the exhibition.

Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds of GoGoGorillas! will be donated to Break and the Born Free Foundation.

• At the show the large gorilla is being displayed at Archant’s stand (217) while the smaller gorilla is on the Break stand.

• To sponsor a gorilla contact Martin Green at Break on 01603 670107 or email martin.green@break-charity.org

• Follow the fun at www.gogogorillas.co.uk, on Facebook and on Twitter at @gogogorillas

• Schools wanting to get involved with the project should email hello@wildinart.co.uk

• emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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