I recently visited the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition, “Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon,” which runs October 7, 2006 – January 7, 2007. The whole first floor of the gallery is dedicated to the well-loved British Columbia artist, who lived from 1871-1945. Divided into three theme areas, the exhibit begins with a partial recreation of the National Gallery’s 1927 exhibition, “West Coast Art: Native and Modern,” which brought together Carr’s art with First Nations art, as well as works by Paul Kane, A.Y. Jackson and others. The show includes some paintings of Carr’s that I haven’t seen before, as well as hooked rugs and painted pottery, which she created during her years as a Victoria landlady.
The exhibit is well worth a visit. The museum offers programs for School groups, and SuperSunday, the third Sunday of each month, is a great time for families to attend, with hands-on art activities for children happening throughout the gallery. During past SuperSundays, I have dressed in period costume and read from my novels about Emily Carr’s childhood, “Discovering Emily” and “Emily’s Dream” (both published by Orca). My aim with the books is to introduce children to the real person behind the famous artist and show them she was once an ordinary child like them – with her own frustrations and dreams. Emily fulfilled her dreams, and so could they.
People find their way to a love of Emily Carr through different routes. For some, it is through her paintings. For others, it is through her own writings about her life. Some children will get their first glimpse of Carr through books such as “Discovering Emily” and “Emily’s Dream” or the picture book, “Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World,” written by Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrated by CWILL member Maxwell Newhouse. How did you discover Emily?