THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT
Presented by Simons in partnership with Ottawa Art Gallery
June 29, 2018 – August 19, 2018
Celebrated Canadian novelist and author, Douglas Coupland, will unveil his latest work The National Portrait at the Ottawa Art Gallery on June 29, 2018. In partnership with Canadian Fashion retailer Simons, the artist has created a 3D portrait of Canadians in the twenty-first century.
Coupland’s ambitious large-scale installation is made from hundreds of 3D-printed portraits scanned voluntarily from members of the public at Simons store locations on a cross-country tour. This crowd-sourced artistic initiative ran from July 2015 until April 2017, and included stops in nine cities: Quebec City, Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Mississauga, Ottawa, Calgary, Yellowknife and Halifax. Each participant received a hand-sized version of their own 3D printed bust.
The National Portrait is an assemblage of the 3D printed busts in a garden-like formation with faces looking forward towards both the sun and the future. Gold and silver gilding adds richness to the sculpture’s components which sit atop risers, as Coupland describes “hijacking the aesthetics of retail display.”
Commissioned by Simons in keeping with their commitment to local arts and culture, the project also highlights the retailer’s expansion across Canada. As described by President Peter Simons, “The National Portrait is much more than a Simons project. As we traveled from city to city, it quickly became a national piece of art using technology that people were fascinated to experience as they watched their own 3D portraits being printed. Unveiling The National Portrait in the nation’s capital is quite fitting.”
By the Numbers
1,700 total number of heads scanned
1,000 total number of heads in the piece
70 kilometers of biodegradable plastic filament used
11 months to print all the pieces of the sculpture
15 3D printers used
Photo: Lawrence Cook