A new public art sculpture donated by the Italian-Canadian community through the Peace Through Valour committee of Villa Charities was unveiled on Saturday at the Nathan Phillips Square. The sculpture was officially received by Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East on behalf of the Mayor and the City Council.
This large, bronze monument, called Peace Through Valour, commemorates the more than 93,000 Canadian soldiers who took part in the Italian campaign of the Second World War. Several veterans of that campaign were at the dedication ceremony and helped unveil the sculpture. The work was created by internationally known Canadian artist Ken Lum.
“The City of Toronto is honoured to receive such a generous and meaningful art work donation,” said Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong. “This work conveys the accomplishments of our Canadian veterans while also creatively illustrating the immense destruction of war.”
“I have personally travelled to most of the Italian cemeteries where Canadians are buried,” said former senator Consiglio Di Nino, who leads the Peace Through Valour committee. “I was struck by their tremendous youth and sacrifices. We must ensure that the Canadian participation and the many who did not return, and their sacrifices, are remembered.”
Lum’s work is located at Nathan Phillips Square’s Sculpture Court, in the northwest corner of the square, behind the statue of Sir Winston Churchill. The sculpture presents a 3D printed bronze topographical map of the town of Ortona, where Canadian soldiers fought the fiercest battle in the Italian Campaign, and achieved one of the greatest victories of the Second World War.
Beautiful coastal town of Ortona
Ortona was a beautiful medieval coastal town on the Adriatic Sea that was reduced to ruin and devastation upon the conclusion of the campaign. Renowned Canadian artist Charles Comfort took many photographs and created several paintings of the destroyed town. Lum drew inspiration and developed ideas from Comfort’s materials and additional historic photography. At each of the four corners of the map, a slightly less than life-size bronze statue of a Canadian soldier stands vigil.
“My idea is for a work which also echoes the expanse of Nathan Phillips Square,” said Lum. “It is a work to be looked at with downcast eyes, rather than upward looking eyes. Its presentation is highly depictive but the model-like scale allows for considerable visual play and engagement across a wide range of audience ages, from children to adults.”
Lum is an internationally acclaimed Canadian mixed media artist, curator and educator. Born in Vancouver, he now resides in Philadelphia, where he is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He works in a number of media including painting, sculpture and photography, and has exhibited at major biennales around the world. Lum has been commissioned to create public art projects in Canada, the United States and Europe.
Lum’s work becomes part of the City’s permanent Public Art and Monuments Collection. The City of Toronto has more than 205 public artworks and monuments in its collection, which are located throughout the city. – CINEWS