Toronto, May 30, 2012---The McMurtry Gardens of Justice celebrated the dedication of three new sculptures and the 80th birthday of the Hon. R. Roy McMurtry, former Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the province’s Attorney General from 1975 to 1985.
Photo: Norm Betts
Located in the pedestrian avenue that runs from University Avenue to Nathan Phillips Square between Osgoode Hall and the Courthouse at 361 University Avenue in Toronto, the sculpture garden and education centre recognize the decades of exemplary public service to the people of Ontario and Canada by the Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, while enhancing the judicial precinct.
The Gardens presents as an ideal tribute to a man who has made an enormous contribution to our community and our country. “As a long serving public servant, elected official, jurist and diplomat, the Honourable Roy McMurtry has been widely recognized for his compassion, inspiration and dedication to the development of a fair, just and enlightened society,” said Justice Gloria Epstein, co-founder and initial inspiration behind the Gardens. As a tribute to Roy and to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Gardens, as it comes to full symbolic bloom, will communicate to the public, through artistic expression, the values that form the foundation of our system of justice.
The three new sculptures to be dedicated join the first work, “Pillars of Justice” by Edwina Sandys, which was unveiled when the Gardens of Justice was opened in May of 2007.
“Equal Before the Law” by Eldon Garnet reinforces that the essence of the law is equality. Before and under the law, we are all equal. 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.
Garnet is an artist 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. Garnet is the author of three novels.
“Freedom of Expression” and “Freedom of Religion” are by Marlene Hilton Moore, a renowned artist and sculptor based in Hillsdale, Ontario. She has undertaken numerous public art commissions, and solo and group exhibitions throughout Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. She has received several awards from organizations such as the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and others.
“Freedom of Expression” is a classical bronze female figure, representing the moment of beginning a speech with the animation of the face and gesturing with one hand while holding a document in the other. There is a simplicity and directness in the representation of this freedom as freedom of speech has been a fundamental principle of Canadian life since the earliest times and is part of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “Freedom of Religion” features a classical bronze male figure holding aloft the symbolic form of a globe, embossed with symbols from a selection of the world’s religions. Each religion’s symbol is well recognized as belonging to a specific religion. The symbols, joined together on the surface of the globe and held uplifted in the hands of an individual, strongly represent each individual’s freedom of religious choice.
“We sincerely thank The Advocates Society for sponsoring “Equal Before the Law” and the Toronto Lawyers Association for their sponsorship of “Freedom of Expression.” said Seymour Epstein, co-founder of Gardens of Justice. “These two organizations are significant participants in our legal profession and their generosity and support are greatly appreciated.”
“The Toronto Lawyers Association is proud to support the McMurtry Gardens of Justice and, in particular, “Freedom of Expression”. For over 125 years, TLA and its members have both worked to protect this freedom, and been the beneficiaries of it, in carrying out their profession. The new sculptures are wonderful additions to the Toronto landscape and visible reminders that we must be vigilant in preserving the freedoms they represent,” said Chris Matthews, president of the Toronto Lawyers Association.
“The Advocates’ Society is honoured to lend its support to the McMurtry Gardens of Justice, and to sponsor Equal Before the Law,” said Mark D. Lerner, President of the Advocates’ Society. “As champions of excellence in advocacy and a courageous and independent bar, we are pleased to introduce to the public this work of art, which visually supports these core values.”
“The Gardens of Justice play an important role in helping to inform the public about the values that form the foundation of the rule of law and our system of justice while serving as a lasting tribute to the Hon. Roy McMurtry,” said Attorney General John Gerretsen. “All those involved with this wonderful project deserve sincere thanks for their dedication and hard work to make this idea a reality.”