David Inshaw’s Gromit, ‘Bushed’, at the RWA in Bristol

David Inshaw is an RWA Academician. He works predominately in oil paint, producing paintings of significant size. His work can be found in many places including the Bristol Art Gallery and Museum and the Tate Collection. He is the painter of The Badminton Game, 1972-3, which is one of his most famous pieces, and the beautiful but less well-known painting The River Bank (Ophelia), 1980.

The Gromit that Inshaw has designed is called ‘Bushed’ and – before the exhibition of all eighty Gromits – was situated just inside the entrance to the RWA. ‘Bushed’ is an apt name considering the Gromit is covered in dark green details of English foliage and leaves. This makes it feel like one of the subtler Gromit designs that can be seen around the city. The design also exemplifies much of Inshaw’s work that is immersed in Englishness and a love of the English countryside. His representation of trees and shrubs is striking and so stylised that it is instantly recognisable as his work. It therefore seems appropriate that this is the design for his Gromit sculpture.

Inshaw’s paintings focus on particular detailed aspects of nature, which he uses to reflect and explore human emotions. In various interviews he admits that Thomas Hardy’s novels and poems, and particularly the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, heavily influence him. In this novel natural landscapes are used as metaphors for elements of the human psyche. The landscape influences the mind as well as reflecting or helping to translate it. This is suggested in Inshaw’s own work partly because landscapes dominate each composition (and even overshadow the few figures also included in the paintings) and emit feelings of tranquillity, melancholy, nostalgia or order, as appropriate to the circumstantial production of the painting and its title.  Continue reading

Gromit Unleashed, RWA Bristol

Published in Trebuchet Magazine

From the 18th to 22nd September a sensational exhibition entitled ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth’, will sweep into Bristol.

Inside the building that used to be Habitat on Queens Road, eighty larger than life Gromit statues will be displayed. They have been designed and decorated by artists, designers or companies (such as Peter Blake, The Beano, Pixar, and even Nick Park himself).

These Gromits were originally installed at various iconic landmarks as well as in more hidden places across Bristol. This was in a similar vein to the apes that were put up round the city last summer; the pig sculptures that appeared in Bath several years ago; and the original cows which punctuated various European cities during the 90s.

The Gromits are clearly more fun and accessible than the apes (which even managed to look sinister and slightly threatening).

But why have the Gromits been such a success? There are many possibilities. Gromit is a character we can all immediately recognize regardless of our generation. He could arguably be called a British icon. Specifically, Gromit also has roots in Bristol, as he was created by Nick Park at the Bristol Aardman Animation Studios.

Unlike the apes, the Gromits appeared to reflect certain characteristics, landmarks or areas of Bristol through the way they have been decorated. For example, there was an Elvis Gromit (The King) near the Bristol Old Vic, and a pirate Gromit (Salty Sea Dog) at The Cascade Steps by the Harbourside. In Millennium Square, an astronout Gromit (called Astro Gromit) reflected the stark modern design of the space and the ‘At Bristol’ centre, which focuses on science.  Continue reading