Meet our Great Gorillas

1 : 'Herbert' by Sue Misselbrook

Can be found at: 'Paignton Zoo, Paignton'

Sponsored by Paignton Zoo
Paignton Zoo



The design for ‘Herbert’ was borne one rare warm and sunny afternoon, this summer, when Sue and a fellow artist spent time bouncing ideas between each other, in her friend’s back garden. Two main features of 2012 came up and Sue later planned designs around both, each with a generic flavour. 

The first design was based on the weather map, featuring yellow wellies, a souwester and plenty of rain and clouds, with sunny spells. The second idea came from the celebrations and successes of the year – the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, with its atmosphere created and sustained by sportsmen and women, the crowd and artists involved in the opening and closing ceremonies. This gorilla was based on the idea of celebration bunting, set against a blue sky background.  Each bunting flag was designed to reflect elements of Africa in pattern and colour and also animals associated with the gorilla.

‘Herbert’, the celebration gorilla was chosen as the final design and using specific acrylic paints, Sue spent time sponging a mix of blues as a background to the colourful bunting looped around his body, finally bringing him to life.

Sue Misselbrook

Sue Misselbrook was trained in Practical Art Work for two years at art school, in Cambridge.  She then undertook three years further education training at Dartington College of Art and Rolle College before qualifying as an art specialist teacher for middle schools.

Afterwards, Sue went on to teach Art in secondary school for five years and to work as a ‘housemother’ at Dartington Hall School, for nine years.  It was following this period of time in education that Sue came to Paignton Zoo to cover a member of staff’s maternity leave. That was over 25 years ago...and she has never left!

In that time, Sue has produced labels for animal enclosures and large wood relief panels for the Rhino House and Ape Centre, mosaics, wall paintings and decorative routering in wood and artists impressions among many, many other things. In addition, she undertakes freelance work producing village signs and parish maps as well as illustrations for book covers.

She likes to think ‘outside the box’ and work with others, considering different uses for a variety of materials.

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