Monday, 4 July 2011

Bernice Zerm - Custom Retardy Dunce

The basis for this custom stems from a quote by Gary Baseman: "The dunce image can be found in my paintings as a metaphor of man being a 'fool for love' "

First here's a shot of the figure in it's original form......

And this is the first stage of reconstruction......

And the backstory for this custom:

Bernice Zerm started out as the sawdust sweeper at Bombast Furioso's Palace Of Wonders. It was here that she spent more than 25yrs of her life learning some of the many professions the circus had to offer. Her years of hard work, practice and determination eventually paid off and she became ringmaster. Whilst touring the Mid-West a few years later she fell hopelessly in love with the leading sideshow performer Erin 'Bigfoot' Nadeau. This kind of relationship was so frowned upon by the circus hierarchy that they decided to run away from the Palace Of Wonders and start a new life together*.

All was well for the first few months. The pair traveled extensively, steadily progressing further and further northwards. They reached the Canadian border in late August. There came a kind of urgency in their traveling, Erin appeared progressively more preoccupied and distant. They found themselves renting a small house at Hazelton in the Northwest Territories, Bernice was keen to settle and try to establish themselves here with a view to starting a small business. However, Erin was very restless and her general appearance didn't help with their integration.

It was during the third day of a sightseeing trip into the Howson Range that Erin became very withdrawn, going on a solitary trek out towards Mount Felber. Bernice spent the next five days scouring the area in her search for Erin, each day returning to camp ever more forlorn. She finally made her way back to Hazelton in the depths of despondency and spent the next few months returning to Howson Range to continue her fruitless search.

Bernice soon realised that she was fast running out of money, she needed to find work and quickly if she were to continue with her searches. It was at the Hazelton Hotel on Government Street that the idea struck her. Each evening passengers would assemble at the hotel to embark on the many steamboats that plied their trade on the river, but there was one steamer that never left it's mooring. The 'Old Caledonia' was used as a drinking and entertainment emporium and was filled to overflowing with locals and visitors until the early hours of the morning. It was here that Bernice began her new career as a torch singer.

Bernice continued to search for Erin, each summer mounting expeditions further and further into the unexplored regions of the Howson Range. Spurred on by regular reports and sightings of what the locals called Sasquatch. She lived, in hope, to the ripe old age of 97 but was to never again set eyes upon her beloved Erin Nadeau.

*There were distinct divisions within the circus that made relationships between performers in the big top and those from the sideshows impossible.

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