A red squirrel who has become the unofficial mascot of country house hotel Doxford Hall has been celebrated in a specially commissioned unique wire sculpture.
Newcastle-based artist and James Bond baddie Jaws lookalike Gary Tiplady has created the stunning intricate sculpture of Cyril the Squirrel, which is installed in pride of place inside the hotel’s main reception.
Gary, who started life as a chef and has cooked for the Queen and a host of celebrities, honed his artistic talent making sculptures from butter and lard which diners often tried to buy.
He is now recognised as a top wire sculptor, with commissions from clients including Sir John Hall and the Duchess of Northumberland.
In keeping with his career as a Jaws lookalike, he has incredibly large hands and is able to bend strands of wire into animal sculptures so lifelike they could almost be breathing.
Newcastle-based Gary has been creating a set of sculptures for Doxford Hall since last October and while installing his Howling Wolf piece, he was accosted by Cyril.
Gary said: “I was securing the sculpture when Cyril appeared. He made it quite clear that this was an invasion of his territory, and he was the star around here.
“I’ve now built a wire recreation of Cyril, so hopefully this will appease him. I’ve mounted the sculpture on some driftwood from Amble, so it is a real North East Squirrel just like Cyril.”
Red squirrels are native to Britain but are becoming increasingly rare thanks to disease and the spread of the non-native and larger grey squirrel. Cyril spotting has become a popular pastime among Doxford Hall’s guests and he rarely disappoints his fans.
Doxford Hall general manager Mark Booth said: “We have had some phenomenal feedback from guests about Gary’s sculptures, with many requesting his business card.
“We are absolutely delighted with his depiction of Cyril – and we’re sure Cyril, and our guests, will be too.”