Spray paint proves smart move for artist tackling Santander International’s Go Wild Gorilla

Decorating a life-sized gorilla takes time. But for Oli Nightingale, the artist tasked with creating Santander International’s exhibit for the Durrell Go Wild Gorilla trail, street-art experience proved essential in the production of the design.

Oli took just four days to paint Badongo, Santander International’s gorilla for Durrell’s sculpture trail. Wearing a red rugby shirt – the colour of the bank’s brand and the Island’s ‘Jersey Reds’ team– Badongo, who is named after Durrell’s silverback gorilla, is one of the most realistic-looking creatures on the trail.

Oli said: “Once we’d decided to decorate Badongo, I knew from the jump that using creative materials from the Graffiti world was the way to go. Having painted many wall murals in the past, I knew what would work, so followed the process step-by-step, from sketch to the Gorilla canvas. Four days might sound quick, but they were long days in the studio.

“Working quickly is common practise in Graffiti – only with spray paint can you fill a large wall with beautiful design and colour in less than a day. We had a great studio space to work in for the project, and this platform contributed to an amazing workflow.”

A background as a cartoon artist made Oli the natural choice for Santander’s rugby-player gorilla; helping turn a blank statue into a personality who looks ready to pick up the ball.

Currently based in Malaga, Oli began spray painting as a hobby, before turning it into a professional focus.

“I had always loved drawing gorillas.” Oli said. “In my earlier years I used to endlessly draw DJ gorillas, most likely sparked from visits to Jersey Zoo as a child which collided with a love of electronic music as teenager. Since then I have drawn many more apes as T-shirt designs, bespoke birthday cards, and in other formats, but this is the biggest gorilla I’ve ever got to work on, as well as my first 3-D project.

“The project has been amazing from a creative perspective and working in the studio alongside so many other artists from unique backgrounds has been inspiring. Every sculpture is so different, with some artists taking weeks, or even months to complete more intricate designs.”

Although Badongo’s design is partly shaped by urban art, the trail is designed to help people connect with nature, encouraging Jersey residents and summer visitors to explore different parts of the Island to see the 40 different gorilla sculptures.

James Pountney, Managing Director, Santander International, said: “We were keen to support Durrell with the Go Wild Gorillas initiative, helping raise funds for the new gorilla house at the zoo, and raise awareness of the plight of these magnificent creatures. Santander International was delighted to work with Oli and we look forward to revealing the statue in its natural habitat later this month.”

Go Wild Gorillas is a free family-fun event running in Jersey throughout the summer to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Durrell.

About our Gorilla
The sculpture is the Jersey Reds’ new ‘Dream Signing’, Jersey Zoo’s own Badongo, rocking his shiny new boots and iced gem haircut. He features various references and links to the island, Durrell and Jersey Reds’ victories on his unique kit.

Watch this short video of Oli creating Badongo:

Find out more about how we’re supporting Durrell’s Go Wild Gorilla initiative.


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