We caught up with Wallace and Gromit creator and Oscar winner Nick Park from Aardman Animations over a cup of 'Space Oddi-TEA', Wallace reincarnated as David Bowie and a pack of brightly-coloured Gromits chasing down their arch-nemesis, the sinister penguin Feathers McGraw, on two Bristol Ferry Boats

Gromit unleashed boat chase

Image - Nick Park with 'Space Oddi-Tea' Wallace 

The Great Bristol Boat Chase and the appearance of several of Bristol’s most famous celebrities marked the launch of the Gromit Unleashed Trail 2, led by Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity The Grand Appeal. The trail starts in Bristol next week (2 July – 2 September) and features 67 sculptures, each individually designed and decorated by high-profile artists, designers, innovators and local talent, spread across the city and surrounding areas. The trail is raising money for Bristol Children’s Hospital and the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol.

Visit Bristol were invited along to watch the colourful spectacle and chat to the brilliant Wallace and Gromit creator, Nick Park himself!

The sculptures look amazing, you must be really pleased?

Oh incredible, we had the Gromit trail just a few years ago and the Shaun the Sheep trail and we kept thinking how can we top this, surely we’ve done everything, but to see how people come forward with ideas and designs, they look absolutely dazzling, I think we have topped it. It just looks amazing.

Gromit Unleashed 2 - Nick Park interview

Image - Nick Park with 'Long John Wallace', three Feathers McGraw designs on a Bristol Ferry Boat

And have you got any favourites?

Well it’s difficult because there’s so many great designs and so many innovative designs as well, but the one we’re sitting with, David Bowie – Space Oddi-TEA – is great and even the puns are there. I never in a million years would have imagined Wallace dressed as David Bowie! There’s some great ones and there’s more interactive ones this year, as well as this time it’s not just Gromit, there’s Wallace and Feathers McGraw, the penguin. I’m amazed how people recognise them all so well, you know, but we’re so proud at Aardman to have our characters as a blank canvas for all these creative artists and designers, and just what it’s for really. The artists, designers and sponsors have been so generous and hopefully it will inspire that on behalf of The Grand Appeal and a great sense of fun at the same time in Bristol, and a great attraction to Bristol.

Gromit Unleashed 2 - Bristol Boat chase

Image - 'Space Oddi-TEA' Wallace on Bristol Harbourside

Bristol is known for being a creative city, do you have somewhere in the city that has particularly inspired you?

I love living in Bristol, it’s such a great place to live, there’s so much going on all the time, the Harbourside is one of my favourite places, even just coming out for a walk at lunchtime is always lovely and seeing the boats. There’s so much, like the M Shed and the shops, there’s so many areas... I love walking in Ashton Court, it’s one of my favourite places actually, and I sometimes play golf up there.

Gromit Unleashed 2

Image - Long John Wallace with three Feathers McGraws on a Bristol Ferry Boat

The Grand Appeal trails in partnership with Aardman, draw thousands of people to the city. Where would you recommend first-timers to Bristol visit?

Well there’s the kind of regular spots like the Suspension Bridge obviously, I love all that area around Clifton, The Avon Gorge Hotel, and I don’t want to just say the posh bits...I’m a bit stuck, that’s the thing - there’s so many places in Bristol. The Harbour’s the obvious place to come and the Suspension Bridge, Park Street and down in the centre there’s some historic places – St Mary Redcliffe Church. There are some wonderful bits.

Gromit Unleashed 2 trail - nick park interview

Image - a pack of Gromits on a Bristol Ferry Boat, Bristol Harbourside

What advice would you give a young animator who wanted to get into animation?

Well there are so many opportunities in terms of creating animation now, with computers, everyone’s got a laptop, you can get apps, you know that do animation, that help you…or traditional clay like we do, or technological, digital animation. People can get a lot more access these days, so I would just come up with ideas, try things out – that’s how I started. All I would say is try stuff out and build up a reel of things you can do, just be free with your ideas.

Thank you to Nick and The Grand Appeal, we can't wait for the trail to start!

Gromit Unleashed 2 trail

Image - Gromit as Paw Patrol's 'Marshall' 

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