Project: Wallace & Gromit Bench
Artist : Aardman Animations Ltd
Commissioner: Preston City Council
Project Manager: Andrew Dewhurst, Eric Wright Group
Developer: Maple Grove Developments
Consultant Sculptor / Artistic Advisor : Peter Hodgkinson
Bronze Casting & Fabrication: Castle Fine Arts Foundry Ltd
Site Programme: 15 months
Service: Public Art Consultant
Ian Banks has been commissioned as Public Art Consultant by Preston City Council currrently working in partnership with developers Maple Grove Developments, part of Preston-based Eric Wright Group ( and working with Developer Partner Muse). The brief is to help manage a public sculpture project being linked to their joint development proposals called Animate, for a new integrated Preston Cinema and Restaurant Scheme for the city centre – and due for completion in 2022. Linked to this, and as part of the new public realm to be sited outside of the new cinema, Oscar-winning animation studio Aardman Animations have been approached by the city council to create a design for a permanent bronze statue of much-loved animation characters ‘Wallace & Gromit‘.
The city is actually the home town of Aardman animator Nick Park, and his designs for a sculpture is to be based on his two most famous characters in the iconic 1993 film The Wrong Trousers. The original concept had first been proposed by Park for installation in the city in 2008 as part of an earlier Preston programme called Citybrand . This failed to happen for various reasons, including the wider economic recession. Around that same time, Ian Banks had already been working with the council and Citybrand on developing a new public art gateway strategy for Preston, and this included the Wallace & Gromit piece. When originally commenting on his proposals back in 2007, Nick Park had said:
“This is a really exciting project and I’m delighted to be working on the designs for a Wallace and Gromit statue in Preston. As a Prestonian myself it would be a wonderful honour to have a statue to Wallace and Gromit in my home city.”
Now, as before, his newly proposed 7-foot high bronze will consist of a full size but stretched traditional street bench where Gromit sits to one side reading his local newspaper. Behind, Wallace wearing the ex-NASA ‘Techo Trousers‘ first bought for Gromit’s birthday in the film, and tilted on one leg, offers passers-by a happy thumbs-up.
Sure to be a huge hit with Aardman fans and a selfie obsessed public alike, before completion of the cinema the work will also form a small but key part of a wider curated programme of pop-up events, installations, visitor attractions and street food markets being planned for Preston city centre during 2021. The parallel cultural project, known as Harris Quarter Pop Ups, has been funded by a £1 million grant awarded to the city from the UK Government’s Town Deal Accelerator Fund. A main objective of the ‘pop-up’ is to encourage more city visits from residents and visitors alike, and to help re-establish the area as a safe destination of choice in the face of the pandemic.
This targeted fund is a small part of a much bigger £20.9m awarded to Preston from the government’s strategic Towns Fund for a series of ambitious regeneration projects within its emerging Harris Quarter. This funding, announced in March 2021 as part of the chancellor’s budget, supports redevelopment projects from the new Preston City Investment Plan (CIP) with a 15-year vision to transform the city centre. It also fits within the wider strategic cultural objectives for Lancashire and a Preston City of Culture bid for 2025.
A gallery of images from the original Nick Park sketch and artist model or maquette later created by Aardman (and soon to be used to start testing and scaling-up the proposals) is shown below along with a current 3D Scan using Sketchfab
’Aardman’ (word mark) is a trademark used under licence from Aardman Animations Limited” . ‘Wallace & Gromit’ (word mark) and the characters ‘Wallace’ and ‘Gromit’ are trademarks used under licence from Aardman Animations Limited.
Categories: Public Art