Elek Imredy collection [textual records, graphic materials]

Supplied title note
Title based on contents of collection.
Collection number
Physical description
  • 0.33 meters of textual records
  • 109 photographs; 3x5 - 8x10, b&w; colour
  • 2 negatives; 5x7; colour
Administrative history / Biographical sketch

Elek Imredy was born April 13, 1912 in Budapest, Hungary. He received formal art training in Hungary before fleeing in 1956 and settling in Vancouver, B.C. in 1957. From 1965 to 1968 he taught evening courses at the Vancouver School of Art and Vancouver City College (Langara) with classes in drawing techniques and anatomy. He was one of the founders of the Western chapter of the Canadian Sculptor's Society. In 1968 he married Doreen (Peggy) Lehti.

During his career, Elek Imredy created many small sculptures for private, religious and educational institutions. He participated in numerous public exhibitions between 1958-1989 and his sculptures were exhibited across Canada, the United States and Europe. Major commissions were executed in bronze, wood, granite, limestone, fibreglass & concrete. Some of his more notable works include a life-size statue of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent in the Supreme Court in Ottawa; a bust of archivist Major J.S. Matthews at the City of Vancouver Archives; a sculpture of Judge Matthew Begbie (Begbie Square) and Lady of Justice at the Vancouver Law Courts.

Imredy's most famous sculpture Girl in Wetsuit situated in Vancouver's Stanley Park was commissioned in 1971 by the Harbour Improvement Society. The Society was specifically formed by Douglas Brown in order to finance the creation of the statue. The original statue was modelled in clay and a fibreglass replica was sent to Rome to be cast in bronze since there was no suitable foundry in Vancouver in the early 1970s. While often mistaken as a replica of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid statue, Imredy created the statue of skin diver to symbolize BC's modern spirit of exploration. He has sited her so that she is gazing out towards the Province's continental shelf. The woman who posed for the work was Debra Harrington of Vancouver, whose father Clyde was a professional photographer.

The statue was unveiled in June 1972 and her rock base in Vancouver harbour was elevated 30 inches so that the statue would sit above the water at high tide. Each year until his death in 1994, Imredy and companions would return to Stanley Park and wait for low tide so they could clean the statue. Further information can be found in the publication The Sculpture of Elek Imredy by Elek Imredy (Vancouver, B.C.: Terry Noble, 1993).

Scope & content
Collection consists of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, sketches, working papers, publicity materials, and promotional materials related to the creation of the Girl in Wetsuit sculpture located in Vancouver Harbour at Stanley Park. Also included are contracts and invoices for the casting of the sculpture.
Arrangement provided by Archivist.
English, Italian