Where's the tiny sculpture now?

YOU ASKED: What ever happened to the tiny sculpture created by Tommy Kakinuma? It used to sit outside City Hall for the longest time. I'd like to know where it is now.

- Curious senior

OUR ANSWER: Well, we didn't expect this to be such a difficult question to find an answer to, but it has proved one of the most challenging ones ever posed to our Readers' Reporter department.

We started our search with Barb Berger, manager of the City's arts, heritage and culture department, who sleuthed high and low for us.

"The sculpture was before my time but you've got me interested," said Berger. "I'll do some detective work."

First off, here's what we know about Thomas Kakinuma: He was born in Japan in 1908 and came to Canada in 1937 at the age of 29, working menial jobs in Vancouver before moving to Toronto to study art.

He had wanted to be a painter but found it difficult to earn a living at that, so he became a ceramics potter - and a celebrated one at that. By the time the new Kamloops City Hall opened in 1964, Kakinuma was enjoying a good living as a potter, which is why it was probably quite the cultural coup to have one of his creations grace the garden outside the new civic building.

But this is where the details get scarce.

Berger and Kamloops Museum archivist Susan Cross both searched extensively for documents, photos, anything, to say how a Kakinuma sculpture of a little fisherman ended up outside City Hall for two decades - and what happened to it.

Berger even dropped by the University of B.C. on a recent visit to Burnaby to search its records. Prior to his death in 1982, Kakinuma was a pottery instructor there.

But her search was unsuccessful.

Ours wasn't much better. The Readers' Reporter department contacted UBC and the National Nikkei Centre in Burnaby, hoping to find clues to the Kakinuma collection or his surviving family members, but found nothing.

Berger was more successful in searching the City's records. She found a short note from former City clerk Jim Clark that was meant to be included in a history book about Kamloops. The book was never published but a few copies of Clark's note were given to the museum, library and City Hall.

Here's what Clark wrote:

"A piece of sculpture for the front of the building was suggested, but left in abeyance. A pottery figure of a little fisherman appeared in time for the official opening. It was the source of an ownership argument 17 years later . . ."

No one seems to know what the bone of contention was or where the sculpture ended up.

If any readers know of its whereabouts, please contact our Readers' Reporter department at litt@kamloopsnews.ca or 250-371-6149.

It would be nice to know what became of the little fisherman.

FOOTNOTE: A special thank-you to Barb Berger and Susan Cross for going above and beyond in trying to help solve this mini mystery.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News