Gerhard Juchum’s Lovers II: the sculpture and a photographic tribute

The Lovers, Vancouver City Hall, 1983

The Lovers, Vancouver City Hall, 1983

“Through my art I try to convey the essential values of peace, love, and harmony, the essential values of the true artist. If I express myself in this way, then I do not have to be recognized as a great artist to realize my human potential. That is my goal as an artist. “ ~Gerhard Juchum

The sculpture

Gerhard Juchum was born of German parents on November 15, 1932 in Hetzeldorf, Romania.

He emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia in October, 1968, working as a veterinarian for the federal government, at the same time studying philosophy, sociology and art.

His guerrilla sculptures soon appeared around the city. The Lovers I, clandestinely erected at English Bay Beach in 1972, raised the ire of the Vancouver Parks Board, who grew tired of hauling the artist’s work to the dump.

Undeterred, in 1973 Juchum created The Lovers II, again ”donating” it to the public. The parks board threatened to sue. Later that year, however, the Vancouver City Hall Art Committee relented, giving the statue its present home on the west lawn of Vancouver’s City Hall.

Tragically, 4-years-later, Gerhard Juchum was killed in a fiery car crash, on his way to a weekend getaway on Vancouver Island. He was just 44.

Lovesack

Lovesack

The Photograph

In 1983, I held various positions at Vancouver’s Mountain Equipment Co-op, including photographer for their biannual catalogue. I’d impertinently used the male lover to model the co-op’s “Klettersack” day-climbing pack. I was shooting for the summer catalogue, which was always a challenge in winter — summer catalogue photographs often looked dreary, while winter catalogues, photographed in summer, had models cooking in parkas and balaclavas.

The low winter sun provides my favourite light. I returned to City Hall with my Mamiyaflex medium-format camera loaded with Ilford FP-4 film. The cold December sun was about to set, strongly backlighting the scene. I shot just two frames (#5 and #6 of 12) — without a great deal of confidence I’d nailed the difficult exposure.

In fact, I never took took this image beyond the contact-sheet until last year, when I scanned the negative (originally exposed at 125ASA, developed in Ilford ID-11 1:1 for 9 minutes). What I discovered was a rich negative with excellent detail in the shadows and in all but the brightest highlights — which is exactly how I’d originally pre-visualized the scene.

Prints of The Lovers are available in Limited and open editions at the shop.

Raymond Parker

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