HomeAboutCommissionsSalesGallery Jerry Grey

Commissions: Public Art

The Great Canadian Equalizer

The Great Canadian Equalizer, 1975-79
Commissioned by Department Public Works Canada, Capital Region; Jim Strutt, Architect

The concept of this demographic/historical mural grew out of the failure of the l971 Victoria conference over constitutional reform and the ensuing discord between the provinces and federal government over the division of powers. It is an artist's vision or solution to power sharing in Canada. In the mural every region gets equal time and space. Canada is divided into 15 geographical regions. Each region comprises four parts: dictionary definition; land area, represented by red in proportion to the largest area, Quebec; population, represented in black (largest -- Ontario); and a lineal map of region (Newfoundland and Labrador are separated for aesthetic, not political reasons). The mural is flanked by an explanatory text, biographical information, and numbered identification panels.

Medium: Porcelain (Frit) on steel panels
Size: 60 steel panels 51.5 cm (20" sq. sections)
Wall size: 315 cm x 508 cm (10'4" x 16'8")
Location: Jean Talon Building, Statistics Canada, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa

…collaborative, historical, complex, layered, poised between the hyper-real and the unbendingly abstract.
– Lily Koltun, Director, The Portrait Gallery of Canada

Three and a half years in the making and as touchable, understandable and indestructible a work of public art as is possible, the mural puts the lie to Mackenzie King's downbeat 1936 observation about Canada that “if some countries have too much history, we have too much geography.
– Stephen Franklin, The Canadian Magazine, January 13, l979

Not only is this one of the most original conceptions in any public art work ever done in this country, it is, as artist Ron Bloore has noted, the most thoroughly researched and documented mural ever created in Canada.
– Lotta Dempsey, The Toronto Star, December 10, 1979