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Continuous Portrait of Stephen Harper

Continuous Portrait of Stephen Harper

(2009)

13 x 10 x 10

lead (with maple wood carrier)

Portrait busts have a long noble history of ‘honouring’ in almost all cultures of the world. Usually reserved for the powerful and significant in society, portrait busts convey stature. Continuous Portrait of Stephen Harper is a quietly ironic twist on this tradition. Stephen Harper is our current Prime Minister and, amongst other things, he is known as disinterested in protecting our environment, heavily focused on economic/industrial growth, de-investing in core cultural and arts programs and of having a ‘top down’ style of leadership. I have created my commentary on Stephen Harper based on a well known historic sculpture by futurist Renato Giuseppe Bertelli entitled Continuous Profile of Mussolini (1933), an obvious allusion to dictatorship. I have cast Harper in solid lead weighing approximately 230 lbs; close to his actual weight but heavy headed. Lead is a soft malleable heavy metal used in often in industry. Of course lead is also poisonous and so a protective though somewhat uneven patina of gold leaf was applied as well as many thick slick layers of lacquer. Harper became too drippy and so he was sanded smooth though the process left him appropriately pockmarked in places. With a new layer of gold, Harper has had a final buffing for a beautiful wax polish shine. The ‘process’ of development here is significant in my struggle to make him a perfect bust.

Harper comes with a nice maple (two person) carrier- which is both useful in transportation and can also be read metaphorically.

As with all art, perspective is in the eye of the beholder. This sculpture can be enjoyed as an interesting portrait or it can be read for its strong political overtones. ‘We give ourselves away without meaning to’ (Sigmund Freud); with 360 degrees of winning smile, Harper comes shining through. I like the imperfect profile and story behind it. I think it must be hard to be a prime minister.

Jane Hook Sculpture