The wait to find a new home is over for one of Saint John’s most iconic pieces of public art.
The newly restored People Waiting sculpture by artist John Hooper has now been installed in the uptown pedway, a location that is both accessible to the public and provides protection from the elements.
The whimsical sculpture was previously located outside at the foot of King Street, however, during routine maintenance in 2018 it was discovered the wooden pieces had sustained extreme weather damage and were placed into storage until restoration could take place.
“People Waiting has been part of the public art landscape in Saint John for almost fifty years, having originally been commissioned by Canada Post back in 1975,” says Kate Wilcott, Arts and Culture Coordinator for the City of Saint John. “We knew they needed to be put back on display once restored, but we needed time to find the right location for them.”
The restoration of the sculpture was completed at Hooper Studies in Hampton.
“Over the past several months the People Waiting figures have undergone a transformation. Wood artist Darren Byers worked first on the pieces to prepare them for their new look. This involved replacing rotten bits, re-carving where necessary and then sanding to a paintable finish,” says Tandi Hooper-Clark, daughter of John Hooper.
“Kathy and Sue and other members of the Hooper family, with help from local artist Sheryl Crowley, then worked to bring them back to life. This involved multiple coats of paint, detail work and touch ups. We are thrilled to offer these pieces back to the public – where they can be enjoyed by many for years to come.”
The late Saint John-area artist is revered as one of Canada’s foremost practitioners of wooden art, and his works are celebrated for their humour, satire, bright colours, and comments on social justice and human triumph over adversity.
Hooper’s art can be viewed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Pilgrim School in Los Angeles, the Sinclair Centre in Vancouver, as well as various locations in and around Greater Saint John.
Source City of Saint John