Calgary courtroom home to special exhibit
Published Monday, March 19, 2012 5:45AM MDT
Inside every typical courtroom across the country you would see a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, but inside one at the Calgary courthouse, you'll find something unique.
‘Living Tree', a five panel painting by local artist Sarah Bing, is one of the first paintings to hang in any court room in Canada.
The artwork is six and a half feet high and stretches 25 feet across the back wall of the ceremonial courtroom.
The room is usually used for jury selection, citizenship court, conferences, and once a year they open it to the public.
"We're delighted to have the piece," says Justice Richard O'Gorman. "I think it's really an excellent piece of work. The face we can have it in a public courtroom is something we're thrilled about."
Sarah Bing's painting was commissioned by the Calgary Bar Association and the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.
Bing says the inspiration for the piece was the Canadian Constitution. "Throughout the roots and trunk of the piece, I have key passages of the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights passing their way through those."
Justice O'Gorman says it brings a bit of joy and excitement to an area that doesn't typically see those things. "We're having to decide some tough issues. This is certainly an opportunity to display some art that we really enjoy."
Bing says that her painting nearly didn't make it up in the courtroom.
She says she got a call at the last minute and learned that the painting couldn't be mounted on the back wall of the room.
Sean Fairhurst, executive member of the Calgary Bar Association said they came up with a piece of angle iron hung from the ceiling to hang the painting instead of puncturing the wall, which is specifically designed to assist the acoustics in the room.
Bing says the piece took two months to complete and she spent up to eight hours per day in her southeast Calgary studio.
"When the panels came, I was like, ‘oh my gosh who decided it should be this big' and that was me. Then getting started and once you throw some paint on there you're just good because you just go with it."
Bing used a number of pictures of the Calgary skyline to complete the painting but she did include several landmarks that are currently under construction and some that aren't even built yet.
"It was just an interesting painting before it was finished. It kind of furthers the point that it's never finished. It's always changing and there's always news and exciting things happening and the law has to be organic to change with it."
She adds that she still isn't finished with the work; there is hours of work ahead of her on artistically enhancing many of the prints.
"The gold didn't quite capture the way I would have liked it to in the printing so I feel the piece is complete with the gold enhancement for sure."