Bond villain lookalike sends Tourist Information Centres wild

Sadie Robson with the lion.
Sadie Robson with the lion.

A James Bond villain lookalike has created a series of wire animals which will spend their holidays at Northumberland’s tourist information centres.

And staff are encouraging the public to visit their nearest centre to have a look at the sculptures and help to plan their Easter activities.

Gary Tiplady with Northumberland County Councillor Val Tyler and the red squirrel.

Gary Tiplady with Northumberland County Councillor Val Tyler and the red squirrel.

The centres have become home to sculptures of local wildlife and animals associated with the towns in which they are found.

The 11 sculptures have been hand-made by artist and Bond villain Jaws lookalike, Gary Tiplady who, at a height of 7ft 3in, can’t find gloves to fit his hands.

Alnwick tourist information centre, in The Shambles, will be home to the Percy Lion, celebrating the iconic statue which is perched on the Lion Bridge.

Wooler TIC, within The Cheviot Centre on Padgepool Place, will feature a red squirrel, woven from a deep red and white wire and perched on a branch.

All the sculptures.

All the sculptures.

The coastal tourist information centres will feature seaside wildlife, including an Arctic tern in flight for Amble TIC, a puffin for Seahouses and a lobster for Craster.

The other sculptures include a life-sized swan at Berwick, a family of ducks at Morpeth, a blackface sheep at Bellingham, a duck at Corbridge, an otter at Hexham and a curlew at Haltwhistle.

Gary said: “I wanted to create sculptures for the Northumberland Tourist Information Centres which are based on animals associated with each town.

“By far the most challenging sculpture to make was the Percy Lion because of the intricate work in all the curls and twists and my favourite one has to be the little tern.”

He added: “I hope by exhibiting my sculptures more people will become aware of their nearest tourist information centre and it encourages people to come inside and visit them.”

Northumberland County Councillor Val Tyler, policy board member for community and infrastructure, said: “The sculptures are absolutely beautiful and I was very impressed with the hard work and craftsmanship which has gone into each and every one.

“In Northumberland, we are lucky to have such an array of wildlife associated with the different areas of our county.

“I would encourage everyone to go and visit their local tourist information centre to have a look at these incredible sculptures for themselves, and ask our friendly staff for help or recommendations to enjoy our county over Easter.”