Former Kingston Mayor Isabel Turner left office nearly two decades ago, but her official portrait to hang in city hall has been a long work in progress.
Now, it appears Turner’s likeness on canvas is getting closer to completion as Kingston visual artist Joanne Gervais was putting the finishing touches on the portrait on Wednesday.
The process actually started well over a decade ago.
In 2010 Global Kingston was in Gervais’ Glenburnie studio where Turner was posing for her portrait. So the question after all those years — why has it taken so long. Gervais was more than happy to reply.
“Part of it was I have a lot of projects — so when I’m painting that one, I’m painting this one. I’ve got usually 40 to 50 on the go and I usually have three easels on the go.”
So she was busy — and that’s great for a working artist but there’s more. Something that wasn’t as great according to Gervais — health problems.
“I also, unfortunately, had two knee replacements and four hand surgeries in that time. So every time there was a surgery I would lose six weeks, twelve weeks depending on how bad it was.”
As for the former mayor, Turner she hasn’t lost any sleep over the delay.
“It’s like a lot of things in life — other things take priority and some of the things that you’ve got in mind fall to the bottom of the bucket and I think for both of us that happened. So really that’s really why.”
Gervais says she enjoyed her time with Turner and came to realize what the local politician wanted her portrait to express.
“She loves life, she loves people, she loves to serve and she wanted that in the painting. ‘Don’t scare the children, make sure that I’m smiling and welcoming.'”
And while Turner hasn’t officially given her final stamp of approval yet — from a reporter who wasn’t that bad at art in high school it looks pretty good.
“I think with my hands open — the whole idea was inviting people to talk to me,” Turner says. “And I did that as you know, as part of my 20 years in serving the community, so I hope that the portrait will portray some of that — that I was very open to listening and to try to solve problems for the community.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic there’s no set date for an official unveiling. The Turner portrait will be the final “oil painting” of a Kingston mayor to be hung at city hall as the municipality is now going with photographs to honour its past leaders.