Workers sculpture unveiled

SAINT JOHN - To a standing ovation, the model of a sculpture memorializing dead and injured workers was unveiled at the Lily Lake pavilion Wednesday. But even as a scale model, the piece was majestic.

                                

Artists Fred Harrison, left, and Darren Byers, right, with committee chairman George Vair, examine the maquette of the April 28th Day of Mourning monument that will be placed outside the pavilion at Lily Lake.

It consists of workers lifting a beam. The first two are ghost-like and symbolize those who have died on the job, the third is a woman standing on a crate that shows unsafe working conditions and the fourth is a man showing the strenuous labour that went into building Saint John. On the end is a bird.

It was designed by Sussex artists Darren Byers and Fred Harrison. The pair's design beat out 12 other artists from across Atlantic Canada.

"The lifting of the beam and the celebration of accomplishing something by working together is part of the design," Harrison said.

The statue will be placed outside the W. Frank Hatheway Labour Exhibit Centre at Lily Lake Pavilion. It's expected the statue will be installed by the fall of 2010, with the bronze statue officially unveiled on April 28, the Day of Mourning in 2011. That day remembers workers who have been killed or injured at work.

"The beam also functions as a sundial; that the passage of time eases the hurt of our losses," Byers said.

At the end of the beam, Byers said, is a light that shines through the head of a bird.

"It will serve as a beacon of light and will be shining out over the lake."

Two benches of local stone and wood will allow visitors to sit and contemplate the piece's meaning and appreciate its beauty.

The statue will cost $300,000. Pat Riley was a member of the committee that helped raise the funds. He said almost 80 per cent of the money has been pledged and the response was overwhelming.

"There's none that equal this," Riley said. "This will be the premier monument in the entire country, I believe."

Telegraph Journal - Published Thursday October 22nd, 2009