Artist catches the bug for painting animal sculptures

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AN artist behind one of the 50 tortoise designs included in this summer’s Tortoise Takeover has revealed the process behind planning and decorating the 3ft-tall sculpture.

The fundraising generated from the sculptures, which have already all been sponsored by local businesses, will be used to build a new amphibian and reptile house at Jersey Zoo.

Marnie Maurri’s design was picked for the tortoise sponsored by the JEP and Bailiwick Express, who are supporting the initiative as its media partner.

Although the designs have to remain top secret until the trail is revealed in July, Ms Maurri was happy to share an insight into her artistic background and the process that goes into decorating a giant tortoise sculpture.

From her home studio in Bromsgrove, Ms Maurri works on residential commissions for a wide range of individuals and businesses which she describes as a ‘very lovely’ job which she is ‘very lucky’ to have.

Ms Maurri first started designing sculptures for art trails in 2018, when she was chosen as one of the artists for the Worcester Stands Tall trail, which saw colourful giraffe sculptures installed around the city for ten weeks.

‘I got the bug,’ said Ms Maurri, who has since designed elephant, hare and owl sculptures for art trails all over the country.

She added: ‘It’s so addictive, and always for an amazing cause.

‘Decorating the sculptures is always a joy from start from finish.’

Most recently, she has finished decorating two large Morph sculptures, which are due to be displayed in London.

However, she admitted that the Tortoise Takeover sculpture is her ‘favourite one so far’.

‘He’s just so cute,’ said Ms Maurri. ‘I was actually quite sad to leave him once I had finished the design.’


Although decorating sculptures is different to her usual work in illustration, Ms Maurri explained that her background in theatre means that she is used to working on large-scale projects.

She admitted that it can be difficult translating a 2D paper design onto an ‘undulating’ 3D sculpture, with a lot of ‘sculpture yoga’ involved to ensure that every part of the tortoise is accessible.

Although she cannot reveal her design until the summer, Ms Maurri explained that the artwork on the tortoise is ‘much less detailed’ than some of her other designs, which has made the process easier.

She said: ‘The tortoise only took about five days to paint compared to an ele-phant sculpture I’ve previously painted, which took three and a half weeks.

‘The tortoise has been an absolute dream to work on,’ Ms Maurri added.


Although she is not sure if the logistics will work out, Ms Maurri said that she would ‘love to’ be able to visit her tortoise when it is on display in Jersey.

‘It’s always nice to see a sculpture in situ so I will try my best,’ she said.

Ms Maurri’s tortoise will be on display in the wild in Jersey from 1 July to 31 August.

After the trail has ended, all the tortoises will be united for a last farewell weekend in September before the larger sculptures go up for auction on 21 September.

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