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Simian the Orangutan

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Simian was created for Jungle City, a charitable event of major conservation impact. The event, launched in Edinburgh, celebrated the magnificence of Asia’s endangered wildlife, generating mass awareness of their plight and making everyone smile at the same time. Purchased by Apex Hotels at a charity auction to represent our commitment to building a sustainable future and minimising our impact on the environment, she is now proudly displayed at the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel in Edinburgh.

We spoke to the artist who designed her, Rebecca Sutherland, to find out more ...

Simian at Apex Waterloo Place Hotel

How did you get involved in the Jungle City Project?
I originally became involved with Jungle City by painting a life-sized baby elephant for the Elephant Parade in London. My elephant, Harapan, was painted for S.O.S. (The Sumatran Orangutan Society) and was situated in Regent's Park, London. While he was on display he created quite a lot of attention from the general public, which then converted into a good price at auction.

What was the inspiration behind Simian?
When considering any design job, I first think about why I'm doing it. Jungle City aimed to bring the plight of the jungle to the city of Edinburgh for a few weeks at the end of the summer 2011, so my brief was to decorate my orangutan in a manner that celebrated this. My idea was to literally camouflage Simian in a jolly jungle pattern. When she was finished I was so pleased that she also got a lovely spot in West Princes Street Gardens with the spectacular back-drop of Edinburgh Castle. Colour and pattern are always present in my work, and although I make a very rough sketch to begin with I very much enjoy working out both as I go along.

How long did the design take to complete?
It always takes me longer than I envisage to paint 3D objects. So I will estimate that from start to finish it took me roughly four weeks to complete Simian's decoration. I really try to satisfy my own eye first and sometimes this means repainting great areas to get it to work as a whole. Every one of these big pieces has been an adventure for me with colour and pattern - it's what I enjoy!

What are your thoughts on where she ended up?
I am over-the-moon that my artwork has found permanent residency in such a grand Edinburgh hotel. As an artist, it is so nice to see where these pieces end up and for Simian to be on public display still is absolutely wonderful. I hope she will stay there for a long time to come. Somehow Simian belongs in the beautiful city of Edinburgh!

What are you working on at the moment?
I currently have a broad range of clients who have commissioned me to do some amazingly exciting projects. At the moment I am working on some a fairy tale illustrations, which are part of a series of books that I have developed, and I’m pleased to say have been sold to an American publisher. I am also about to embark on my third smiler sheet for Royal Mail. My last one was done to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon (2012).

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