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The Rule of Law is a Reflection of Us All - by John Greer

Photo: Harry Linton

The sculpture consists of three books: one flat on its foundation, with its binding at the back, approximately 5.1 feet x 7.2 feet and 1.1 feet high, and two upright-standing, closed books on top of the flat book, each approximately 7.2 feet tall, 5.1 feet wide and approximately a foot thick. They are fabricated of White Italian Marble and Black African Granite. The standing books, with highly polished black granite covers, are set at 90 degrees to each other, with the vortex between them at the back-centre of the prone book and the opposite ends positioned over the front corners of the prone book.

Right angle mirrors: a non-reversing reflection based on two highly polished surfaces of black granite. The two reflected surfaces produce three images. The third reflection, or the middle reflection, can be seen when you stand directly in front of the right angle planes, facing the centre of the V. This image in the reflection is a composite of the two side angle images and it is not reversed as normally seen in a mirror. In this reflection, you see yourself as others see you.

This sculpture brings to consciousness the fundamental importance of our legal system as a definition of Canada. Our law is a reflection of us as a people and a country.

It is really critical that the richness and the beauty of this piece be in the manufacturing detail. The white marble pages were cut with a CNC machine replicating individual pages. The exterior book covers have an egg-shell type surface, as well as the bottom base book. The black granite covers facing each other are highly polished so as to give the aforementioned visual phenomena. The text/title, in English and French, was cut with a CNC machine and gold-leafed on the spine of the books. The spine of the books is rounded like a book and the corners as well are slightly rounded. The white marble is Carrara white marble; the black granite is fixed with high-strength epoxy that is used with this type of manufacturing.

Quote by artist John Greer:

“The ideas behind this monument are about a culture being an accepted shared idea of what constitutes reality. Within this construct is a collective code of moral conduct written into law. These encoded laws represent each and every one of us within our culture. Laws are not an imposition on us, but they are a reflection of who we are. To see ourselves as others see us is both empowering and humbling. 

“Standing centrally before the monument you see your image reflected in such a way, as to see yourself as others see you. In a way it is like seeing yourself outside of yourself and in the public space. The sliver of light between the law books represents possible change. Like the line in Leonhard Cohen’s song: ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’… the sign of hope.

“The scale of the monument is both monumental and yet human scale. I used two types of stone. Granite being from the magma, the crust of the earth on which our lives unfold, is used for the book covers. The interior of the books is marble, which is composed mostly of calcium coming from a once living material. Both types of stone are millions of years old, coming into this form to reflect on in the present moment. The details of this monument are very important to me, such as, if one feels the underside of the book projecting beyond the base book, the cuts representing the pages can be felt.

“The finish on the outside covers is like leather. How one interacts physically with this monument has been carefully considered. My hope is that after one interacts with the sculpture, the haptic experience will remain and encourage a deeper understanding of the importance of the law.”

John Greer - Artist

John Greer is an established, exhibiting Canadian artist and has been involved in the past 15+ years in placing thoughtful work in the public domain. He is exhibiting his work since 1967 extensively in Canada, USA, Korea and Europe. He taught sculpture for 26 years as full professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In this position, his thinking and teaching has shaped and influenced contemporary sculpture and three-dimensional art practice in Canada and abroad. 

Greer was recognized for this lifetime achievement and significant contribution to contemporary Canadian visual art with the Governor General’s Award in 2009. He has received continuous support throughout his career through grants and prizes. 

John Greer’s “retroActive” in 2015 was shown at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This extensive exhibition spanned almost 50 years of artistic activity, and a 350-page monograph with the same title was released in June 2015. 

In 2014, Greer co-founded “Intercontinental Sculpture Inc.”, in order to be able to handle even more successfully the business part of creating art for the public domain. With this company he has a team of people involved in the smooth realization of large projects. His infrastructure for making art uses foundries and fabricators with state-of-the-art facilities from North America to Europe. 

The Memorial to the Canadian Building Trades Unions, “Standing Together”, a collaboration with Architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, was unveiled by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in May 2017. “Gathering, 2001” is adjacent to the National Museum in Yongsan Park in Seoul, Korea, and “Reflection, 2001” is the monument to international Canadian Aid Workers in Ottawa, Ontario. His work “Origins, 1995” is permanently installed in the Ondaatje courtyard of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and he has works in major national and international collections. In 2009 John installed the piece “Humble Ending” in La Serpara, a sculpture garden North of Rome. In 2011 his work “The Sirens” was permanently installed in a private park in Switzerland; and the large-scale installation “Cradle” was completed in the spring of 2012 for the same private collection.

John Greer divides his time and art practice between Canada and Italy, where he is just moving into a large-scale facility for realizing work. His work is widely reviewed online and in printed matter. He prefers sculpture as his language and tries to engage the viewer in being a human, thinking object among objects, a being “of” the world, a cultural object.