Emily Carr - Legendary Female Canadian Artist

Posted by Jhan Dudley on

In the history of Canadian art, Emily Carr is an icon. Born in Victoria, she moved to San Francisco in 1890 to study art after the death of her parents. In 1899 she travelled to England to continue her studies. She spent time at the Westminster School of Art in London and various studio schools in Cornwall, Bushey, Hertfordshire, and elsewhere. In 1910, she spent a year studying art at the Académie Colarossi in Paris.

Native Influences

Her works were influenced by the landscape of the BC., as well as the First Nations culture. Visiting a mission school beside the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Ucluelet in 1898. And began to paint the totem poles of the coastal Kwakwaka’wakw, Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit and other communities. Attempting to record and learn from as many as possible. In 1913 Emily Carr returned to Victoria. She also spent time in Vancouver, both of which were, at that time, conservative. And remained unknown to and unrecognized by the greater art world for many years. She worked as a potter, dog breeder and boarding house landlady. Having given up on her artistic career.

Emily Carr

Meeting the Group of Seven

In the 1920s she was invited by the National Gallery of Canada to participate in a major exhibition. Featuring Canadian West Coast Art. She travelled to Ontario for this show in 1927 where she met members of the Group, including Lawren Harris, whose support was invaluable. And was invited to be in the Group of Seven exhibitions. Marking the beginning of her long and valuable association with the Group. Naming her 'The Mother of Modern Arts'.

The Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island's west coast had nicknamed Emily Carr Klee Wyck, "the laughing one." She gave this name to a book about her experiences with the natives, published in 1941. The book won the Governor General's Award that year. Her other titles were The Book of Small (1942),The House of All Sorts (1944) and Growing Pains (1946) Pause and The Heart of a Peacock (1953), and in 1966, Hundreds and Thousands. They reveal her to be an accomplished writer.

Paying Respect

The Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design bears her name. Along with the Emily Carr Elementary School in Vancouver and the Emily Carr Middle School in Ottawa. And Emily Carr Public School in London.

In my art, I hope to capture the same love of the area that she did. Be sure to check out the gallery. I love the Vancouver area and I hope that translates in my work. You can see the beauty of Britannia Beach to the passion of Whistler and Howe Sound.

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