24 star upstages grandad’s statue

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REGINA -- The artist who created a sculpture of famous Canadian politician Tommy Douglas says she is deeply disappointed with the sculpture's unveiling ceremony in Saskatchewan last week, an event which she says became a "publicity stunt" and "a Hollywood circus."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/09/2010 (4345 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

REGINA — The artist who created a sculpture of famous Canadian politician Tommy Douglas says she is deeply disappointed with the sculpture’s unveiling ceremony in Saskatchewan last week, an event which she says became a “publicity stunt” and “a Hollywood circus.”

“To me, the unveiling of a sculpture is like a baptism of a child. You honour the art, and the spirit of life of the one that the monument is dedicated to,” Lea Vivot told the Regina Leader-Post. “It is not a self-serving ceremony.”

Vivot said she believes the unveiling was derailed by the presence of Douglas’s grandson, actor Kiefer Sutherland, star of the recently ended drama 24, and also by politicians who attended the event.

DON HEALY / POSTMEDIA NEWS archives Sculptor Lea Vivot is upset that the un­veiling of her statue of Tommy Douglas was upstaged by actor Keifer Sutherland, who is also Douglas’s grandson.

The Ontario-based artist is so bothered by what happened that she is even considering taking back the sculpture and moving it to Douglas’s birthplace in Scotland, but said she will make that decision after discussing the matter with her advisers in the coming days.

John Nolan, tourism and culture director of the Tommy Douglas Centre in Weyburn, Sask., located about 115 kilometres southeast of Regina, said he shares some of Vivot’s concerns. He said the day was supposed to be focused on the sculpture and on Douglas, but instead became something different.

“On the day that it happens, Kiefer comes, and everybody gets blinded by the Hollywood glitz, and suddenly a bunch of the newspapers, especially back east, forgot who actually made the day possible,” he said.

He speculated that the problem came from “two worlds colliding.”

Douglas was the premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and is perhaps best known as the first Canadian politician to champion universal health care.

Weyburn resident Nancy Styles, who chaired the committee that organized the unveiling, declined to comment, but said the committee is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Vivot said she was inspired to make a monument to Douglas after being injured in a car accident, and then receiving free medical care. She said the experience led her to learn more about Douglas and his legacy, and made her realize, “this was a man that deserves to be immortalized.”

Vivot later made contact with Douglas’s home community in Saskatchewan, agreeing to donate the sculpture if the community would raise $30,000 for her materials.

She described the people of Weyburn as “very beautiful people” who worked hard to raise the money for the sculpture, and said they impressed her with their love of Douglas.

But Vivot said some of the national media coverage focused too much on Sutherland’s celebrity, and did not recognize the people of Weyburn or her role as the sculptor.

 

— Postmedia News

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