Meet Our Members: Zoe Genders

With the Sheffield Bears taking over the city, we thought we’d catch up with Guild member Zoe Genders, whose Chromabear is currently residing in Orchard Square, to find out more about the process.

I applied to take part in the project in 2019, which seems like such a long time ago now. It took me a while to put the design together but there are always ideas milling around my head so it’s good to get them out and on paper (or bear). I’ve not painted a bear before, but I didn’t really let the shape of the bear inform my design. I tend to design first, then work out logistics. The design came from thinking about paths and streams, footsteps or trails, hills and valleys and all of the different people that use them in and around the city. I think a lot about journeys both literal and metaphorical, and I love walking in the Peaks, so I guess those things are going to inform my work somewhere along the line.

There were no prompts from the Children’s Hospital Charity, although the colours I had been using in recent murals come from the same kind of palette – I love rich, bold colours. It’s great to be able to support the amazing Children’s Hospital doing something I really enjoy. Hopefully it will bring joy to many others too.

The Bear was delivered on the 7th April and the process took around a week give or take – I think when there is an 8ft Bear in your living room, you get it done pretty quickly! It was definitely a challenge, but that’s why I enjoy doing what I do, it makes life more interesting. I challenged myself by trying out a bit of perspective, not something I have done before. I was initially going to project the design onto the bear and work that way, however, there was not enough room to set that up in my living room, so in the end I drew the design onto the bear by eye and I’m pretty happy with the results. It was collected by some lovely folks on the 22nd April. The other benefit to having the bear in the living room was that once it had gone, I was super motivated to finally redecorate!

I used masonry paint and a fair bit of masking to try and get the contours right, then the Bear was varnished at the Bearhouse Warehouse, it was ace to see them all there together! I guess due to the pandemic, from start to finish it was about 2 years?! A long time, but having seen the bears out and about, I think very much worth the wait.