Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Queen Victoria the Grand Old Dame

How well I recall the times when I have stood near the Ontario Legislature and seen this statue of Queen Victoria.

There is something about grand old statues like this. They are public statements of the esteem we hold for important people. Why is it that statue making has become an almost dead art?

Whenever I stand beneath such a great statue as this, I feel a sense of awe.
For one thing such statues are huge, and they almost always sit atop a concrete pedestal. And when I stand below them and look up their subject is greater than life, and I feel very small.

But its more then just a physical thing. Huge statues of important historical figures, remind us of our place in the scheme of things. It has to do with power.
Victoria represents in this case, institutional power. The power of the long gone Empire. The power of government and history and military might and tradition. The whole nine yards.

And this statue of Victoria also represents the respect which the builders of the Ontario Parilaiment buildings had for their Queen. It was a statement that they belonged and were part of an imperial system. As it was said, "The sun never sets on the British Empire," and Victoria - the Great White Mother, looks down on her children of the world and all is well.

I wonder if we have stopped building great statues because of a shift in our cultural perspective. Have we become statues onto ourselves? If such is the case, there should be a great pedestal on University Avenue in Toronto, which has a small staircase up the back for viewers to climb and then to stand atop and look over our little domains? Have we culturally decided that the individual is the sum of the whole? Do we no longer see great political figures in the same way?

But yet, artistically, statues bring a city and parks, grace and nobility.

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