Paul O’Grady Designs an Old Lady Go Penguin


Many thanks to the artist, Nicola Windever, for mentioning the ArtInLiverpool blog on Radio Merseyside last night.

TV and radio star Paul O’Grady has created his first work of public art – a penguin as an old lady!

The chat show host has created the funny character for Liverpool’s major public art event of the year – Go Penguins, which will see more than 200 of the creatures spread across the city over the Christmas period.

Paul’s ‘Owl Ma Penguin’ design is inspired from childhood memories of ladies that were locally called “Mary Ellen’s”, and has used the five foot penguin to try to recreate the ‘old Spirit of Liverpool’.

The award-winning entertainer explained: ‘’You don’t see them anymore but they were complete with hair curlers, wrinkly stockings, an old mac and a ‘spud’ basket.’’

Paul’s creation has some typical O’Grady touches such as a leopard skin head scarf and old ladies slippers, with a fur trim.

The BBC Radio 2 presenter got involved in the project as a supporter for the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), which is debating to put certain Penguins on their species at risk register.  Liverpool’s Go Penguins project is the highlight event of the city’s Year of the Environment and is being used to highlight the dangers of global warming and polar ice melting.

’Owl Ma’ (the owl is a Liverpuldian phrase for old) will take pride of place at The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool City Centre.

Paul said: ‘’Penguins are fantastic little animals and it’s heartbreaking to think what we’re doing to the earth is threatening their very existence. If my attempt at being Leonardo Da Vinci can help people stop, have a laugh and think about global warming then I’ll be very happy.

‘’I had a real ball doing this design – I wanted to create the image of some of the women who you would see around Paddy’s flower market or on their way to their cleaning jobs.

‘’I think the Go Penguins idea is fantastic and I hope to get back home to see ‘Owl Ma’ and her friends over Christmas.’’

Go Penguins was commissioned by Liverpool City Council and is delivered by Wild In Art. More than 120 artists and a further 98 schools have joined Paul in creating the super-flock.

The public art trail, which has already injected £100,000 into the city’s creative sector, launches on Monday, November 23 across Liverpool, St Helens and Wirral and runs until Monday, Jan 10 2010.

Owl Ma Penguin and other selected penguins will be auctioned for charity in February, with Liverpool’s Lord Mayor Charities and WWF among the beneficiaries.