Rejuvenated arches appear at Isle of Wight Zoo

Tony Trowbridge, Not Dead Yet is behind the rejuvenated arches outside Isle of Wight Zoo

To some artists, painting on a canvas larger than your average living room picture would be a daunting task but to Tony Trowbridge, aka Not Dead Yet, if the canvas was the living room wall, it still wouldn’t be large enough. That is why he leapt at the chance to paint animals on the Isle of Wight Zoo arches.

“It’s not every day you get to paint 15 wall-sized canvasses,”

Tony Trowbridge

With the help of photographers, volunteers and staff, Tony compiled a series of animals he would like to depict on the arches making certain that it was not just the big cats that got their pictures on the walls. He also wanted to ensure that everyone who enters Sandown Bay knows that there is a Zoo behind that Fort.

Tony Trowbridge painting the eyes of a lion at Isle of Wight Zoo

“The eyes are very important, people identify with the eyes.”

Tony Trowbridge

Eyes have always dominated Tony’s artwork. From the age of 3 he would draw eyes on his bedroom wall. Whenever his family moved to a new house, they would allow Tony to paint eyes all over one room, only decorating it just before they moved. It is no wonder then, that with all that practice, all of the animals in the arches have very powerful eyes.

Although art took a back seat for a time while Tony forged out a career in the armed forces and civil service, his sketchbooks from that time show that drawing was an addiction and passion rather than a passing phase. He was clearly meant to be an artist, for even his graphic logs were sought after by other students when he was studying for an honours degree in Natural Science with the Open University.

“I combine my love of animals, sea life and fantasy art, add in a bit of superhero and pop art and I’ve a got a broad spectrum to work from. But I won’t do blue seas,”

Tony Trowbridge

Although Tony’s work is extremely varied and covers a diverse range of subjects, as can be seen from the numerous walls he has painted all over the island, he insists that despite returning to the island over 25 years ago he won’t do sea scenes.

Much of the preparatory work is done at his studio in Sandown, away from the wall. He researches images, angles and materials and then works out the colour combinations before any paint leaves the can.

“I start off with a pencil sketch, then work up to full scale artwork using mostly freehand spray paint.”

Tony Trowbridge

So what prompted Tony to offer his skills to the Zoo? He says

“I have always been fully behind the Zoo’s conservation efforts in India and Madagascar and I was so inspired by a recent talk by a young man called Sagara, who works for WildCAT- C in India, about their tiger conservation work that I wanted to help in any way I could. So when this opportunity arose, I took it!”.

Tony Trowbridge

Veronica Chrisp, CEO of the Zoo and The Wildheart Trust commented:

“The Trust is delighted to host Tony’s wonderful work. The pictures are beautiful, detailed and very clever. Not only do they brighten up our entrance, they really shout about us as a new and dynamic conservation charity, showcasing our wide range of animals in a way that is thoughtful, colourful and a lot of fun. I hope the passing public love them as much as we do and are encouraged to pay us a visit.”

Veronica Chrisp

So what next? Tony doesn’t have any set plans. He prefers to be fluid in his approach to art, seizing opportunities when they present themselves.