Emily Carr still fascinates

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?

About Jacqueline Pearce

I am a writer (and occasionally, artist) living on the westcoast of Canada. I write novels, short stories and poetry for children and young adults. When I'm not at my computer, I explore the city, finding inspiration in hints of history, unexpected art, and glimpses of wild nature pushing up between the cracks. Sometimes, the resulting thoughts and haiku find there way onto my blog, "wildink."
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4 Responses to Emily Carr still fascinates

  1. Craig says:

    My first experience of Emily was while living in Victoria and speaking with some of the eldery residents who remembered Emily Carr riding her bicycle around the James Bay area loaded with “stuff” including her pet monkey… the impression was she was an poor, eccentric woman that didn’t fit in to society… she wasn’t famous then… yet in death her work graces the finest museums worldwide… it is sad that artists must struggle for so long before society recognizes their gifts.

  2. Jean-Pierre says:

    It’s hard for me to say when I first ran into Emily Carr. I grew up on Vancouver Island (Cowichan valley) so I’d like to say that I was aware of Emily when I was very young but… I don’t think I actually visited the Victoria Art gallery until after I started at university. I know I never saw any of her works until I went to U.B.C. and went to the VAG. I think I must have first read her books while a first year university student too. And yet it seems as if I must have known about her earlier. I wonder why that is. Maybe because she has become part of the landscape. Can you imagine a B.C. without Emily Carr? It hardly seems possible now. She’s everywhere. She’s become timeless like the totems and the forest.

  3. Joanne says:

    I can’t remember when I first heard of Emily Carr, but I know I found her books facinating. Her life and experiences living in Victoria and on the West Coast are so different from my own. She really opened my eyes to what life was like in the early 1900’s for First Nations people. Sometimes when I walk around downtown or in James Bay I can still feel Emily there.

  4. Rochelle says:

    I had never heard of Emily Carr when I was a child. As an adult I began to familiarize myself with her art. I found her art fascinating and I grew to like the way Emily portrayed nature through her art. I’ve always admired her art although to me she was an artist before her time. She is now a Canadian treasure. I have enjoyed reading Jacqueline’s stories of Emily. A special time was when Jacqueline read parts of her book on Emily at Emily Carr House over the Christmas period. The Carr house was decorated as it would have been in Emily Carr’s time and was beautifully presented.
    It was most memorable.

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