The Sirens' Calling, 2020

This artwork was realized through Intercontinental Sculpture Inc.  

"The beautiful stillness behind everything,

is tempered by our reflective presence."

John Greer

The spirit of movement, the wind, desire, was often represented as a bird with a human head. This is a metaphor of imagination, the desire to soar and to realize, to bring into the world what our mind conceives. 
The power of the Sirens in the epic “The Odyssey” shows the beauty and the danger the sirens represent. They have the power to seduce and transfix. Ulysses is fully aware of the human willpower needed to resist the summons.

There is a beautiful stillness behind everything and as a living, engaged human consciousness our callings are tempered by the reflective presence of this stillness. In order to step or go forward we must know the place from where we step, otherwise we descend into chaos and madness.


In my sculpture titled “The Calling”, I represent these ideas in the form of four archaic Greek figures sourced from standing archaic marble carvings. These known and existing carvings have clothing and hairstyles that I am utilizing to represent the four cardinal positions of the compass. In my sculpture I reduced the front of these life-size figures to a flat, two-dimensional surface, mirror-polished stainless steel.

The backs of these figures are fully articulated in their archaic style. They are in the traditional posture of the stepping figure, the left foot slightly forward, indicating deliberate forward moving potential. These figures are standing in a row. They hold their individual space, but are a united front. This arrested moment or movement represents the engaged stillness, the state of wonder.


They are each grounded on a large block of black granite, a block showing the evidence of being taken from the earth and placed on the earth.


Granite, unlike marble, is the very core material of the Earth itself. The figures are centred on a large monolith – facing the respective direction that they represent as Cardinal points. The front of the figures, being silhouettes, can be perceived frontally as a figure stepping forward or receding, stepping away. Going out into the world and coming back in order to reflect. They are not about vanity, but about vision as they open our gaze towards the surroundings and the sky.


The Sirens overlooking the harbour act as a metaphor: The “going-out” to engage with the world, the public act and the call of the safe haven, the harbour, the private place of reflection.

The arresting sound of the siren on an emergency vehicle causes us to pause and wonder, to take in where we are at the very moment in relation to the sounding call. The experience is a kind of reflection of position. The word “siren” and its implication of danger echoes back to one of the foundations of western culture, Greek literature. It is a reverberation in time – bringing the past into the present.


Statement by John Greer.

All images in this compilation are by Vanessa Paschakarnis.

(click on any image to enlarge it and start the slide show)

The slide show below is a visual documentation by photographer Raoul Manuel Schnell of the installation of this artwork in 2020. This sculpture by John Greer was realized through Intercontinental Sculpture Inc. with Vanessa Paschakarnis as the project manager.

Due to pandemic restrictions, the team, Vanessa and John, had to to the installation themselves using a local crane truck and heavy equipment company and the electrician Brady Rhodenizer.

As you can tell from the images - two very intense days!

Look for this plaque as you are approaching the artwork from the water side, it is inserted into the ground to the right, a piece of granite in the wooden floor boards:

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Bus Shelter in Halifax with retroActive poster!
Thinking Back to Gertrude and Henrie, 2015
Installation View retroActive with Threshold, 2015; Civilization, 1990/91; PaperMoney, 2012
Wait of Water by John Greer, 2014 Bay of Fundy Detail of Wait of Water, October 9th, 2014; retroActive tied up, tide down, looking back across the bay where the piece was first realized in 1972
National Gallery of Canada : THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
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© John Greer