Meet our Great Gorillas

21 : 'X-ray Ape' by Sue Misselbrook & Dave Ellacott

Can be found at: 'Queen Street, Exeter (near the Clock Tower)'

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Paignton Zoo


‘X-ray Ape’

This is the winning design in the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust staff competition. The idea is by Reserves Warden Dave Ellacott and brought to life by Paignton Zoo’s graphic artist, Sue Misselbrook. Dave has always been fascinated by x-rays of his own broken bones, so perhaps that was in the back of his mind when he submitted his entry!

Dave Ellacott

Dave is the Reserves Warden for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. It’s his job to look after the Primley and Clennon Gorge nature reserves close by Paignton Zoo; at various times he can be found chain-sawing, mowing, coppicing, putting up nest boxes or working with school groups. He has been in the post for 12 years and loves it. But what about art?

“While I can’t draw anything more complicated than stick men, I do like to make stuff. I do basic leather work - watch straps, wrist bands and so on – and I like to construct rustic wooden furniture using scrap wood or locally-sourced timber. The more I use unwanted materials the better - people call it up-cycling, but I just see it as basic common sense!”

Dave has also dabbled with chainsaw carving and once made a life-size wooden crocodile. Where did the inspiration for his gorilla come from? “I’ve always been fascinated by x-rays of myself when I go to the hospital, so perhaps that was in the back of my mind!”

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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