Skip to content

Sculptor Vivot upset by coverage of unveiling

The sculptor of the newly-unveiled bronze statue of Tommy Douglas is upset about the coverage by the national and out-of-province media of the unveiling ceremony, but promises she will leave the statue in Weyburn where it is.
Internationally-known artist La Vivot poses with the Tommy Douglas sculpture, which was unveiled in Weyburn on Sept. 10. At left Keifer Sutherland, Douglas' grandson and Hollywood star, applauds the finished work. Vivot gifted the sculpture to the City of Weyburn, and she spent several years working on the sculpture in her quest to commemorate Douglas's humanitarian causes and revere the man who was claimed as "The Greatest Canadian". A committee spearheaded by Isabelle Butters and Ross McMurtry fundraised for the material costs for the statue, so that it could be permanently displayed on the Boardwalk in Weyburn.

The sculptor of the newly-unveiled bronze statue of Tommy Douglas is upset about the coverage by the national and out-of-province media of the unveiling ceremony, but promises she will leave the statue in Weyburn where it is.

In light of media reports in national and Toronto publications that didn't even mention Vivot as the sculptor, nor her gift of the statue to the City of Weyburn, there were reports she was upset enough that she was going to move the statue from Weyburn to Falkirk, Scotland, the birthplace of Tommy Douglas.

Reached at her Toronto studio on Monday, Vivot clarified that she has no wish to move the statue from Weyburn, and that she was already working on a statue of Douglas for Falkirk, plus a bust of Douglas for the Parliament in London, England; these were in the works before she made a commitment to Weyburn for the statue that now resides here.

She added that she did not have an issue with Douglas' grandson, actor Kiefer Sutherland, or the political leaders who were present.

Sutherland was present as the grandson of Tommy Douglas, and the stories he told were stories as a family member, she noted, while the federal and provincial NDP leaders were there as Douglas was one of the first leaders of the NDP in Saskatchewan and in Canada.

"I blame the media, the international media," that left out the fact that she was the sculptor of the statue in the information with the photos of the unveiling shown in papers across the country.

"The artist worked for years to make this happen I was dismayed when I saw the national front pages and there was the statue being unveiled by Kiefer Sutherland, but not who made it," she said, noting the work of the artist is the intellectual and artistic property of the artist, and the artist should therefore be acknowledged for the work she did.

Vivot said sculpture is one of the oldest forms of art known to mankind, as it immortalizes the person who is the subject of the work. Giving credit to the artist is no different than an author having his or her name on the book they had published, she said, or giving credit in a movie for the work of an actor or actress.

Referring to films and television, she said, "That is a fleeting kind of art. The sculpture is something that will stay long after the written word has passed away."

The Tommy Douglas sculpture "wasn't about me", she added, it was about the accomplishment of the man.

"I want to make sure everyone understands, I did it to immortalize Tommy Douglas. It's a gift to every Canadian," she said.

Vivot added she is speaking out on her behalf, but also on behalf of all artists, because unknown artists struggle to get their work known, but people often don't pay attention to the creativity and work that goes into creating the work.

"I know how difficult it is to execute something out of nothing and bring it to life," she said.

The first indication she had of a problem was when, back at her headquarters in Toronto, her lawyer came in with a Toronto newspaper with the photo of the statue unveiling. He pointed to Kiefer Sutherland and said, "He unveiled the statue, but do you know who made it? Was it you?' There was no name of who did it."

Members of the community helped to raise $30,000 to pay for the materials used in the sculpture, but as Vivot explained, the money was not an issue.

"It wasn't that I needed the money, but I needed to know that the people wanted this. They will now feel a part of that sculpture - but nobody really mentioned this," said Vivot.

The one aspect of the statue she did not like was that the plaques were not done and in place, stating who the subject of the statue is, and who the sculptor is.

Coun. Nancy Styles, chair of the city committee organized to install the sculpture and to hold the unveiling, admitted this was the case, but said they simply didn't have time to get them done before the unveiling. The plaques will be done, but first the committee will meet this evening, Sept. 22, to determine the best course of action, including getting a tender for the best price.

"Lea had a wonderful idea and gifted it to Weyburn. Isabelle (Butters) and Ross (McMurtry) helped raise the money for it, and we're grateful the statue is now here. The city is very grateful she has given this wonderful work to us," said Coun. Styles, adding of the controversy, "It doesn't matter what you do, there's going to be hiccups. It's unfortunate; you can present the information, but they choose what to use or not use."

She added that clearly Vivot had "very deep feelings about how she wanted things to go", but it didn't turn out the way she had hoped. "We've got a wonderful statue, and I'm thankful she did it for us."

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks