Remnants of Haydn Davies’ original will be useA settlement has been reached in a long-standing dispute between the family of renowned Canadian sculptor Haydn Davies and the Ontario community college that razed one of Davies’ most famous outdoor works.
While certain details of the settlement were not made public, it results in the establishment, in perpetuity, of an annual cash award for a graduating student in sculpture installation at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto (Davies attended the college in the late 1940s).
In addition, Lambton is returning the remaining pieces of the destroyed sculpture, called Homage, to the Davies family. Before his death, at 86 in March 2008, Davies prepared a series of drawings for a new outdoor installation that, should a settlement ever be reached, would be made from the remnants of the destroyed work – “in effect, an homage to Homage,” according to his son Bryan, who added: . “We were pleased to reach this [arrangement] without a trial, because a trial would have done nothing in terms of what we wanted to accomplish on my father’s behalf, namely to benefit art in Canada.”
The settlement marks the end of a saga dating to June 2005, when Lambton ordered the demolition of Homage, a large, almost Stonehenge-like work of laminated red-cedar that the college commissioned from Davies in 1974 for its entrance. Officials argued Homage had to be destroyed because it had deteriorated to the point where “it was no longer safe.” Earlier, they’d agreed to at least postpone its demolition by back-hoe to allow the Davies family to visit the site and make a determination. However, officials failed to reach the outside contractor hired for the removal in time to halt the action. The remnants were subsequently deposited in a compost field on the Sarnia campus.
The destruction made headlines across Canada and later inspired a play by Nova Scotian Anthony Black. Called Homage, the play, which had its world premiere in Halifax last spring, will have four performances next month at Toronto’s Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity.
In his original suit, Davies argued that in demolishing Homage, Lambton violated his moral rights under the Copyright Act and breached its obligation to maintain the work. The suit was filed after talks between Davies and Lambton broke down in the fall of 2005. Davies wanted the Homage remnants returned; the college said it was “open” to this – but on the condition that “no legal action … be pursued against the college” and that Davies halt his “public criticisms of the college.” Davies refused.