Cambridge Times, A Sculptress’ Labour of Love

December 22, 2006, Cambridge TimesRay Martin


DECEMBER 22, 2006

A new piece of art donated to the City of Cambridge is truly a labour of love.

Preston sculptress Jane Hook presented her latest work to the city Tuesday. It’s a bronzed-coloured bust of her neighbour, Burt Frandsen.

“Burt is a lovely man,” she said. “He’s a hero who deserves to be honoured.”

Frandsen, 93, was first noticed by Hook walking his dog down Cyrus Street. The character in his face whetted Hook’s artistic appetite. She got talking with him and eventually asked him to pose for the piece.

Over the course of six, two-hour sessions and many cups of tea, Hook really got to know her neighbour.

“I really got to know his life and I heard many of his war stories,” she said. “He’s an amazing man.”

Frandsen’s clay bust is Hook’s way of paying tribute to veterans’ sacrifices.

“These men are national heroes and I want to salute them while we still have them around,” she said. “They are old men now and they have become invisible to us.”

As a young man, Frandsen worked three seasons as a sailor on Great Lake freighters. He married and took a factor job working for Dunlop tire before he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1943. Frandsen took a steam course in Halifax and was assigned with 200 other seamen to the Royal Navy for large ship training. Frandsen was assigned to the cruiser H.M.S. Glasgow and served with her on D-Day during the Normandy invasion.

“Our ship was with the U.S. ships at Omaha Beach in the American sector,” he recalled. “The noise from the guns could not be imagined. Our guns were only six inches, but we were anchored alongside of a big U.S. battleship with 14-inch guns and then of course came our bombers to add to the din plus the German guns from ashore.”

Frandsen later went to the pacific serving aboard H.M.C.S. Uganda.

“Our job was to protect the aircraft carriers, whose planes were flying bombing runs every day to Okinawa,” he recalled. “Then came the Japs’ last gamble. They threw all the planes they had up … so-called kamikazes – suicide planes. Some were shot down before reaching their target, which was the British and American carriers. One plane made a direct hit on one of the British carries and put the flight deck out of commission. The Jap planes seemed to be everywhere. I was on deck on our ship in charge of a foam-making machine in case we got hit.”

When Frandsen got back from the war, he’d had enough of the navy. He returned to his old job and worked for Dunlop Tire for 33 years before retiring.

Frandsen is surprised at the attention he is getting.

“People are making too much of this,” he said. “There were a lot of others who did a lot more than I did. I don’t know what to say.”
Asked what he thinks of Hook’s work, Frandsen said, “I guess it looks like me a lot.”

Hook’s sculpture is one of the few pieces of fine art owned by the city. It wont be the last, according to city archivist Jim Quantrell.

“The city has reached a point in its life where we will be seeing much more of this type of thing happening in the future,” he said. “That’s the reason why the city is now putting a policy in place to handle new acquisitions to its art collection.”