Cre­ation of life, death of an artist

Ret­ro­spec­tive dou­ble fea­ture by Cana­dian film­mak­ers pre­sented at Boyd’s Cove

The Pilot - - Classified - BY CLARENCE NGOH

BOYD’S COVE, NL – Tick­ets were sold out at the Beothuk In­ter­pre­ta­tion Cen­tre at Boyd’s Cove when it pre­sented a dou­ble fea­ture about Ger­ald Squires and the in­stal­la­tion of his bronze statue “Shanawdithit.”

Roger Bill’s “Who Will Sing for Me” and Ken­neth Har­vey’s “I Heard the Birch Tree Whis­per,” win­ner of Best Fea­ture Film at the Cana­dian Film Fes­ti­val, were shown.

Bill’s film – as he de­scribed it, a rough cut or non-fin­ished doc­u­men­tary – was shown at the Beothuk In­ter­pre­ta­tion Cen­tre at Boyd’s Cove as part of its pub­lic pro­gram.

The doc­u­men­tary cen­tred on the cre­ation of Ger­ald Squires’ life- sized bronze statue of Shanawdithit – widely be­lieved to have been the last of the Beothuk – from the early stages of cre­ation to fi­nal in­stal­la­tion at the cen­tre.

“I en­coun­tered (this cre­ation) by ac­ci­dent, with Gerry work­ing on this from the be­gin­ning,” said Bill. “I was so taken by the power of the ex­pe­ri­ence and the vi­sion he said he had. My cu­rios­ity was piqued. I wanted to see how it turned out.”

Ac­cord­ing to Squires’ daugh­ter, Esther, “(Squires) was con­sumed by it to the point that he knew he needed to do some- thing – to the point of hav­ing a guilty con­science of hav­ing to cre­ate some­thing to say sorry and recog­nise these peo­ple. “There was no­body left and he felt so badly, and it re­ally tor­tured him. So, to have fin­ished (the statue) must’ve been a great re­lief for him.”

Ken­neth Har­vey’s screen­ing of “I Heard the Birch Tree Whis­per” started as dif­fer­ent film, with the paint­ing of a woman’s por­trait by Ger­ald.

“This di­rec­tion changed when he (Ger­ald) found out he was dy­ing.,” said Har­vey. “Sick­ness of­ten in­forms any­thing you are cre­at­ing. It’s a big part of you. “This story is more about his life, about dy­ing, cre­at­ing and los­ing the abil­ity to cre­ate.”

Cre­at­ing the film was a dif­fi­cult process.

“We had a lot of teary mo­ments, a lot of hugs and things like that. I miss Gerry too,” said Har­vey.

Gail Squires, Ger­ald’s wife, re­flects on the sad­ness of his death. “It was a slow process. We did not ex­pect Gerry to die. He was too good to die.”

On Squires’ cre­ation, “na­ture spoke to Gerry, and they would speak to him, and that is how he in­ter­preted it, through his paint­ings,” his wife said. “He had that ex­tra tal­ent, where if it spoke to us, we are not able to cre­ate it,” added his daugh­ter.

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