The Family

Jack Harman (Canada)


Title: The Family
Artist: Jack Harman
Cast Metal, Bronze
Mother & Baby: 3.53 M. (11.6 ft.) / 726 KG. (1600 lbs.)
Father: 3.8 M. (12.6 ft.) / 771 KG. (1700 lbs.)
Son: 2.72 M. (9 ft.) / 272 KG. (600 lbs.)
Location: Courtyard at Creekhouse (1551 Johnston St)


About the Artwork:

In 1966, artist Jack Harman’s ‘The Family’ was commissioned by Vancouver Sun publisher Stu Keate and installed outside the Pacific Press Building at 6th and Granville Street in Vancouver (1966-1997). When the building was sold, the sculpture was reinstalled at the Pacific Press printing plant in Surrey (1997-2015). Now, after several years in storage, ‘The Family’ has moved to this permanent location on Granville Island.

The concept of family is fundamental to our human experience. This sculpture depicts a 1960’s definition of the traditional nuclear family, with a heterosexual couple and their two children. An idealized depiction, except the teenage boy has no clothes. According to Stephen Harman, the artist’s son, the naked boy represents “a new generation stepping forward, shedding the metaphorical baggage of the past”. Might that baggage be the very definition of family itself? In the decades since the sculpture’s debut, what constitutes a family has been an ongoing topic of legal, political, religious, and social debate. Laws governing marriage and civil unions, adoption and child custody, access to healthcare benefits and financial resources have all changed to reflect more expansive views on the family and the diversity of people within them. ‘The Family’ by Jack Harman is a permanent legacy installation gifted in perpetuity to the people of Canada by the companies and individuals listed below.


About the Artist:

Jack Harman (1927–2001), a sculptor from Vancouver, BC, studied at the Vancouver School of Art, University of British Columbia, and the Slade School of Art and Hammersmith School of Art in England. He taught for 12 years at the Vancouver School of Art and Emily Carr College of Art. Harman established the first sculpture foundry in BC, casting his own work and northwest coast First Nations artists like Bill Reid and Robert Davidson.

He created iconic statues including: ‘The Family’ (1966); ‘Harry Jerome’ (1986) in Stanley Park; Roger Bannister and John Landy’s ‘The Miracle Mile’ at Empire Stadium (1967); and ‘Themis, Goddess of Justice’ at Vancouver Law Courts (1982). He was selected to create the ‘The Queen Elizabeth II Equestrian Monument’ on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, ON (1992); and ‘Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument’ on Sussex Drive in Ottawa (1992). His work is held by the Government of Ontario Art Collection, the University of British Columbia, City of Nanaimo and City of Vancouver. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and received the Order of British Columbia in 1996.


Join the Conversation

We’re interested in hearing about your ideas and experiences. In what ways do you think the definition of family relates to basic human rights? How would you describe your family and how has it evolved over the generations? What challenges do you or those you know continue to have? How do you see the modern family evolving in the future? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #VanBiennale