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