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Rakewell

The artists buttering up Justin Trudeau

7 September 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

To Canada, where an unconventional piece of political statuary has become an internet sensation. Enterprising sculptors at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), a major annual showcase in Toronto, have been busily crafting a likeness of prime minister Justin Trudeau entirely from butter.

The sculpture, which is based on a viral photograph of Trudeau cuddling baby pandas at Toronto Zoo, took shape over the course of the exhibition (18 August–4 September) and formed part of a larger display of buttery monuments to ‘memorable animals’. Butter sculpting, it seems, is a cherished tradition in Canada, and each year the CNE encourages the creative use of a truly stomach-churning quantity of the yellow stuff. ‘In total, we would be using 2,700 pounds of butter that is all composted by the end of exhibition,’ lead sculptor David Salazar told New York radio station 1010 WINS. ‘We’re just having fun with this now, with sculpting butter.’

On the other side of the world, politicians are being subjected to a rather less savoury form of sculptural caricature. Earlier this week, when a larger than life statue of New Zealand environment minister Nick Smith was paraded outside local council offices in Christchurch, staff had good cause to hold their noses.

Created by artist Sam Mahon, the sculpture depicted Smith squatting over a glass with his pants pulled down – a reference to his purportedly lacklustre response to Kiwi water quality issues. Just for good measure Mahon decided to craft his likeness from horse dung.

This is not the first time the artist has taken aim at Smith. In 2009, he created a similar sculpture of the hapless minister out of cow dung which was then polished to give the effect of bronze. Smith, not a figure known for his critical prowess, nevertheless offered a bluntly accurate formal analysis: ‘Excuse the pun, but I would describe it as crap art’.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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