Equal Before the Law - by Eldon Garnet

Photo: Mark Stegel

The essence of the law is equality. Before and under the law, we are all equal. Equality rights are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the relevant section of which appears in English and French on the sides of this sculpture.

This is a poetic work where the symbolic signification represented by the lamb and the lion are not precise, but rather open to a multiplicity of associations and interpretations, all of which are encouraged.

The lamb often signifies purity, innocence, meekness. It often represents either pure thought or a just person.

The lion is rich in symbolism. In common correspondence, the lion is the “king of beasts,” the “natural lord and master,” the possessor of strength. It also can represent earth and at times “philosophical fire.”

The context in which the lamb and lion appear in this sculpture direct the interpretation of these two symbolic representations. One is large, one is small and yet the scales balance. The mis-weighted yet balanced scale invites us to question why and how. The answer is simple - on the scales of justice each individual is equal. One is strong and one is meek, one is powerful and one is weak, but the law treats both equally.

The scales are also represented symbolically. The tower and the platform are constructed symmetrically yet askew. The tower is twisted to a 60 degree angle to the back of the courthouse, to which the platform is parallel. The ends of the platform are cut at 30 degree angles in correspondence to the support tower. The tower is constructed such that the dimensions from the top to the bottom are angled.

Everything about the mathematics of this scale is calculated to be in perfect proportion, balanced, but turned or angled 60 or 30 degrees, as are the proportions designed to range from 1 to 2. The final effect is a scale that is balanced yet in a complicated fashion, possibly a metaphor for the law itself. The scales are constructed of brushed stainless steel. The lion and the lamb are life size, realistically rendered in bronze.

Eldon Garnet - Artist

Eldon Garnet is a photo based artist, public sculptor and writer based in Toronto. He is the artist of the major public sculpture, The Memorial to Commemorate the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada. He has exhibited his photographic and sculptural work extensively in North America and Europe. A participant at the Venice Biennale in 1985. Garnet’s 1997 work, NO was included in the exhibition Hitchcock and Art: Fatal Coincidences at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (2000) and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2001). In 1997, the National Gallery of Canada (CMCP) hosted his mid career survey entitled: the Fallen Body. Garnet has had major surveys of his photographs, at the Amsterdam Centrum voor Fotografie (2002) and Dust at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto (2002).