An Innisfail-area artist who fled South African violence is set to create the world’s biggest caricature on a hectare of pasture land in order to win a $25,000 radio contest.
Dean Foster said he needs to win this money to help cover the $30,000 in legal bills he’s accrued during his seven-year effort to seek asylum and remain in Canada.
Foster is preparing to create a 130-metre high by 100-metre wide cartoonish image of CJay 92 Rocks! deejays Jesse and JD to promote their morning show.
Whoever advertises the radio show the most effectively stands to win a $25,000 prize — which is why Foster has also been driving around with his vehicle painted as a radio station ad.
He needs to beat a previous caricature size record of 91 metres by 60 metres to become the reigning Guinness champion. Foster hopes the media attention this brings will enable him to win the contest.
In preparation for his gargantuan art project, he’s purchased dozens of cans of water-soluble white paint and has staked out private land off Range Road 271. While he won’t be able to see the full image as he paints, the artist will be guided by a grid system and expects to finish the work in a day.
His official Guinness World Record attempt will start on Thursday or Friday, depending on whether rain is in the forecast, said Foster.
On Saturday, he plans to send a drone up with a camera to photograph it.
Foster was a graphic artist who lived on 22 acres in South Africa. He said he became fearful after hearing of weekly killings of white farmers by black mobs who blame English and Dutch people for taking over their land.
He recalled feeling personally targeted while driving home one election day. Foster recounted becoming surrounded by an inflamed crowd who shouted “Go back to England!”
Some people were gesturing threats at him by drawing their fingers across their throats.
Foster added that he kept his car doors locked and managed to drive away.
But after hearing that 54 white farmers were killed in a 12-month period, Foster, a third-generation South African, said he became concerned enough for his children’s future to look at various immigration options.
He discovered that graphic artist ranks very low on the list of desirable occupations allowed entry into this country — certainly well below South African physicians, who are regularly recruited by Canada and other developed nations.
Foster said he became desperate enough to sell whatever he could and arrive as a visitor to Canada, where his father and stepmother had been living as landed immigrants (his dad was accepted as a business owner).
Since then, he has attended three asylum hearings and still only has temporary immigration status.
Meanwhile, Foster’s been working as a truck driver and part-time artist.
Regardless of what happens with the contest, his career or status, Foster said he’s grateful that this country has provided him with a sense of safety and stability since 2011.