Tag Archives: Gerry Squires

“The Art of Gerald Squires: Materials and Sources”

Stan Dragland, literary critic, editor, novelist, and poet will present the annual Newfoundland Historical Society (NHS) George Story Lecture.

The lecture takes its name from George Morley Story (1927-1994), past president of the NHS  and winner of the NHS’s Heritage Award for 1982-1983. Dr. Story joined Memorial University’s Department of English Language and Literature in 1954, where he established an international reputation as a lexicographer and Renaissance scholar, and pioneered the study of Newfoundland history, culture, language and literature.

Dragland in his presentation will discuss the celebrated Newfoundland painter, Gerald Squires. His presentation is based on his research for the long essay in a new book on Squires timed to appear alongside Squires’ 2017 retrospective—opening at The Rooms, May 12th. 

The lecture promises to explore the many sources now available—not only the pictures and sculptures, the criticism and interviews, but also the wealth of archival material preserved by Gail Squires and held in Holyrood.

Especially important are Squires’ own eloquent writings, many of them never published, some of them chosen to grace the lecture. Dragland explores the painter’s passionate grasp of archetypal impulses—heaven and hell contending in his personal cosmology—and tries to suggest how such tensions are embodied in his pictures. An important sub-theme is Squires’ deep-seated ecological consciousness, more relevant and valuable than ever in the context of accelerating threats to the biosphere.

Lecture and illustrations will present Squires as he is well-known and well-loved, but also with dimensions that are not common knowledge. The viewer/listener may also expect to see and hear about some surprising images that came to light after Squires’ death.

Location: Hampton Hall, Marine Institute

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2017     Time: 8pm

Parking: Free parking is available in front and to the west of the building.

Please circulate  to family, friends and colleagues.

For more information:

Tel:(709)722-3191      E-mail: nlhistory@gmail.com


Recommended Exhibit: Gerald Squires: Spirit Visible from  May 13 – September 4, 2017  at The Rooms.

An awesome and beautiful work of art

March 9, 1855

The Redeemer in Death, Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s.

Edward Morris a St. John’s businessman and politician in his diary dated March 9, 1855 wrote:

“went to the Cathedral (now the Basilica) to see Hogan’s sculptured ‘Dead Christ’ which was placed today under the Great Altar. A magnificent piece of art ordered by Dr. Fleming , (Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming) before his death. It cost 600 ponds sterling in Rome besides the expense of freight.”

“The Dead Christ” – was sculpted in Carrara marble by the Irish sculptor John Hogan in 1854. Bishop John Thomas Mullock, on one of his visits to Rome, purchased the statue and had it placed beneath the table of the High Altar on March 9, 1855.

Since it was installed in the Basilica it has twice been moved to new locations, first in 1903 when the Sanctuary was expanded and again in the early 1970’s when it was moved to its present position.

The statue is Hogan’s masterpiece. One observer of the statue wrote:

“It is an awesome and beautiful work of art, full of dignity, and conveying a sense of the serenity which follows the acceptance of God’s will and the peace which is a prelude to the glory of the Resurrection.”

Hogan created two other versions of the statue; the first version (1829) is located in St. Therese’s Church, Dublin, Ireland, the second (1833) in St. Finbarr’s (South) Church, Cork, Ireland. Other works by Hogan include the Sleeping Shepherd and The Drunken Faun. Hogan assured his international reputation in 1829 with The Dead Christ; thereafter, his creations were snapped up by Irish bishops visiting his Rome studio.

Hogan was recognized by by his fellow artist, he  was pronounced by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen as “the best sculptor I leave after me in Rome.”

Hogan was a great supporter of the Irish movement for independence and went on to create a marble statue of Daniel O Connell, an important figure in the movement. The statue stands today at City Hall Dublin, the same spot where O’Connell gave his first speech against the Act of Union in 1800.

Hogan died at his home in Dublin, in 1858.
Recommended Archival Collection: Edward Morris Diaries, Archives of the Roman Catholic  Archdiocese of St. John’s, NL.

Recommended ReadingA full account of Hogan’s life and works, with a catalogue raisonée and bibliography, is given by John Turpin in John Hogan: Irish Neoclassical Sculptor in Rome (Irish Academic Press, 1982).

Recommedned Tour: Visit the  Basilica Cathedral in St. John’s  and enjoy the large collection of art work that adorns the building. The Basilica Cathedral is home to art created by internationally celebrated artists like John Hogan, Edward Carew, Louis Koch, and Gerry Squires.  If you were visting another city you would likely visit the Cathedrals and museums, why not do it in your own city!


Gerry Squires: 1937 – 2015

Gerald Squires

 (November 17, 1937 – October 3, 2015)

Gerald Squires, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most distinguished artists, passed away Saturday (October 3, 2015) at the age of 77 after battling cancer.

He was an artist who found inspiration from the landscape of this place, it was fitting than that it was the landscape that gave him comfort at the end. Squires, the subject of a new film that will be released in 2017 by Kenneth J. Harvey ‘I Heard the Birch Tree Whisper in the Night’ told the producer:

“I was told I was sick by a birch tree …. It was getting late in the evening… I knew something was wrong. I looked out my window at the birch trees, they were shivering …. Suddenly my mind accepted the reality of being sick …. “

Filmmaker and fellow-artist Kenneth J. Harvey is working on a film about Squires and his work, to be released in 2017.”I Heard the Birch Tree Whisper in the Night” Please take time to view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z1TsLgUh8Q&sns=em

Born in Change Islands, Newfoundland, in 1937, he took his early art training in Toronto, where his family moved when he was 12. Growing up, Squires and his family moved often as his mother worked as an officer with the Salvation Army.

He wrote about his mother:

“During the darkness and despair of the first round of chemo, I got fixated on my Mother who died some twenty years ago, my thoughts kept returning to my childhood, to our life together… We loved each very much, we shared many in conversations, concerning Christianity and the things of God, my first influence.”

He returned here with his wife and daughters 20 years later, and settled in 1971 in the lighthouse-keeper’s house in Ferryland.

Much of Squires’ painting has an overtly spiritual quality. Early symbolic works such as The Wanderer, The Boatman, and Cassandra were followed by a major commission from Mary Queen of the World Parish in Mount Pearl: two triptychs and The Stations of the Cross. It is also home to the celebrated Last Supper where Squires casts his friends as the disciples. He often joked that he was the unofficial Catholic artist with major commissions for the Sisters of Mercy, St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital and the Basilica Cathedral.

In subsequent years Squires has concentrated on landscape; the origins of this interest go back at least to the Ferryland Downs paintings of the late 1970s.

Among his many honours, Gerald Squires was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy and appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999, received the Golden Jubilee Award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2003 and was inducted in the Newfoundland and Labrador Art Council’s Hall of Honor in 2008. A major retrospective of the artist’s work was mounted by the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1998, and in September 2008 a solo exhibit “My Lanscape” was held at the Granary Gallery in Waterford, Ireland. Gerald Squires: Newfoundland Artist, by Des Walsh and Susan Jamieson, was published in 1995 and in 2009 Breakwater Books Publishing came out with the artbook “Where Genesis Begins” including 71 artworks by Squires and 37 poems by his good friend Tom Dawe.

Gerald Squires has lived in Holyrood with his wife Gail since 1983.

The Rooms was working with Mr. Squires curating a major retrospective of his work that will open in 2017.