Nfld. & Labrador

Tara Manuel, muse for Gerald Squires sculpture, mourns artist's passing

The Corner Brook woman who helped inspire the statue The Spirit of the Beothuk is adding her memories to the outpouring of tributes to the late artist.

Tara Manuel remembers Gerald Squires

Here and Now

6 years ago
Artist Tara Manuel, who posed for a Gerald Squires sculpture, remembers the late artist. 0:54

The Corner Brook woman who Gerald Squires used as inspiration for his statue The Spirit of the Beothuk is adding her memories to the outpouring of tributes to the late artist.

Tara Manuel said Squires first contacted her in 1998, after seeing photographs of her as a teenager. He invited the then 25-year-old Manuel to act as a muse for a series of works about the Beothuk.

Gerald Squires' bronze statue, The Spirit of the Beothuk, stands in the woods of the Beothuk Interpretation Centre near Boyd's Cove. (CBC)

"I sat for a long time, and he drew pictures, we chatted. It was a really interesting experience," said Manuel.

She spent several weeks posing, and lived with Squires and his wife for the duration.

"He was very gentle, very kind. He was a good listener and a lovely soulful creature," remembered Manuel.

The sessions culminated with her posing for the life-sized bronze sculpture of Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk.

The statue was unveiled in 2000, at the Beothuk Interpretation Centre near Boyd's Cove, Notre Dame Bay. 

"I have visited the sculpture, and that was really moving," said Manuel.

Gerald Squires speaks to CBC News in 2000, for the unveiling of his statue, The Spirit of the Beothuk, seen here in the background. (CBC)

Art 'chooses you'

Manuel is a visual artist herself, and said Squires gave her a lot of guidance during their time together.

"One of the things Gerry talked to me about was his frustration with being lauded as an artist, but still struggling financially to make a living. And it's something I couldn't appreciate then, but I do now," said Manuel.

A close-up of a Gerald Squires drawing of Shanawdithit, belonging to Tara Manuel. (CBC)

She said Squires also went above and beyond to introduce her to the province's arts community, making contacts that would help her financially and artistically.

But above all, she said Squires imparted upon his muse words of wisdom about their shared passion.

"We talked about how art, a life in the arts really, chooses you. You don't choose it. And it's something you have to bargain with, and wrestle with, constantly," said Manuel.


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