Gorilla Glue commission local sculptor to create art for their European headquarters in Chorley
PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 February 2019
When a glue company wanted a sculpture for its Lancashire headquarters they did well to stick with Leyland artist Stephanie Matthews.
They say you should never work with children or animals, but sculptor Stephanie Matthews couldn’t have been more delighted by her commission to create one of the giants of the animal kingdom – a six foot gorilla.
The Leyland artist won the commission after a friend mentioned to her that an American adhesives firm wanted a suitable statue for the reception area at its European headquarters in Chorley. The company is, of course, Gorilla Glue.
They agreed they didn’t want a traditional chest-beating King Kong style gorilla. ‘But it had to reflect strength,’ said Stephanie, who when not sculpting, works as a truck driver. She has been a Class One driver travelling Europe for 28 years.
‘I put together some drawings and from them I made a maquette, which I brought into Gorilla Glue. They were happy with it and I got the job. It was brilliant.’
She set to work at her studio, in the beautiful surroundings of Worden Park, creating the frame with bubble wrap and chicken wire. She named him Stanley and it took her six weeks from start to finish.
‘I worked all day, six days a week and sometimes through the night,’ said Stephanie.
It wasn’t without its hitches. ‘When I started to put the clay on the framework I noticed that one of his shoulders had dropped,’ she said. Remedial work quickly fixed that and after covering the clay Stanley in silicon – she describes it as a substance like custard – the resulting mould was cut into 16 different parts.
They went off to the specialist Castle Fine Arts Foundry in Liverpool, where Stanley was brought to life in bronze and resin with the help of staff Terry Ingram and Tom Butler and several pounds of wax. ‘They did an amazing job,’ she said.
The result is a stunning depiction of a contemplative gorilla in a seated position and with a twinkle in his eye. ‘I always try to put a little humour in my work – I like that to be my trademark,’ added Stephanie, who is completing an MA at UCLan in Preston.
Stanley was given a champagne reception by members of the 60-strong Gorilla Glue team when he was unveiled in the reception area.
‘I always dreamed of doing something like this ever since I started playing with clay as a child,’ she said. ‘But I was a bit sad to hand him over.’
The project taught Stephanie one important lesson. ‘Before he was delivered I realised that I hadn’t checked whether the entrance doors at Gorilla Glue were big enough to get him through,’ she said. ‘I dashed down in a panic to measure them – and he just made it!’