Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Emily Carr Part Three

As you know this week I have been writing on Emily Carr - painter, writer, Canadian icon. Today I am just going to inform you of some of her works and a bit of her legacy.

I found a list of seven books credited to her. The first is one I mentioned on Wednesday, Klee Wyck. This is a collection of anecdotes that tell of Carr's interaction with the First Nations' people and of her experiences while travelling to paint.

The second one tells of her life as a child and is entitled The Book of Small.

The House of All Sorts which related Emily's experiences as a landlady and then there is the book Hundreds and Thousands which is a recounting of Emily's journals. Her autobiography is entitled Growing Pains.

The Heart of A Peacock is a collection of short stories and vignettes especially about her pet monkey Woo. Pause: A Sketchbook is contains sketches and stories from her time in a sanatorium.

The Complete Writings of Emily Carr contains all her writings and was published in 1997.

To list all of Carr's paintings would take more room than I have here but some of her more famous are The Big Raven, Scorned as Timber and Beloved of the Sky.

Lawren Harris once asked Emily what was going to be done with her paintings after she died. Carr's response reportedly was "Give them to the old folks' home. I suppose they would put them in the basement, and there they would rot."

I think artists everywhere are glad that didn't happen.
If you visit Victoria you can go to the Emily Carr House which was a childhood home of Carr's. Now it is a National Historic Site of Canada where artists can display their work.

Carr's name has been used for education as well. There is the Emily Carr Secondary School in Woodbridge, Ontario; Emily Carr Elementary School in Vancouver, BC; Emily Carr Middle School in Ottawa, Ontario and there are Emily Carr public schools in Oakville, Toronto and London Ontario. And, of course, there is the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.

In 1994 a crater on Venus that is approximately 31.9 meters in diameter was named the Carr crater by the International Astronomical Union. I think Emily would have gotten a kick out of that.

But I think she would have been honoured when a sidewater of the Chapplet Inlet on the North Coast of British Columbia was named the Emily Carr Inlet.

This is my last entry for 2011. I will start posting again on January 2, 2012 I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers and to wish you all the best of the holiday season. May the next two weeks be filled with love and happiness. And may you all stay safe.

As always, I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Emily Carr Part Two

This is Always Wishing You Were Somewhere Else by Louisa Tsui.

As promised, I am going to show you more of the decorated electrical boxes on Granville and tell you more about Emily Carr.

When I finished Monday Emily had felt that she wasn't being appreciated for her artwork and had spent fifteen years doing little painting and running a boarding house.

But Ms. Carr's work was coming to the attention of some influential people like a prominent ethnologist by the name of Marius Barbeau who persuaded the Director of Canada's National  Gallery, Eric Brown, to visit Emily in 1927.
You are looking at All The Possiblities by Roberta Chang.
At Brown's invitation Carr sent 26 oil paintings along with samples of her pottery and rugs with indigenous designs east to be included in an exhibition of West Coast Aboriginal Art that the gallery was having. This exhibit  which included works by Edwin Holgate and Group of Seven founder, A.Y. Jackson traveled from Ottawa to Toronto and Montreal. Carr visited the exhibition in the spring and timed her journey so that she was able to meet members of the Group of Seven who at the time were Canada's most recognized modern painters. This encounter changed the direction of Carr's artistic life.

This is Bird's Eye View by Brenna Randlett. There may be something at the top but I am too short to see!
I haven't shown this side of the electrical boxes because they are all the same. A little of the artwork with the 'wrap' logo and the name of the artist and title of the piece.

The encounter with the Group of Seven ended Carr's artistic isolation of the previous fifteen years and reinvigorated her sense of purpose. It may also have assisted Carr with her spiritual side. Emily's 'distrust for institutional religion' pervades much of her art and at this time, like many artists of her time, she became influenced by Theosophic thought. She began to view God as nature and led a spiritual way of life, rejecting the Church.
Sylvia Chan created 'Wiring Problem'.
This meeting led to more support for Carr and her art but one person stood out. Artist and Group of Seven member Lawren Harris told Carr "You are one of us". An important statement to an artist who not only had a self-deprecating manner but who had also just about given up on her passion.

New Vancouver + Old Vancouver by Sarah Wilson.

During the late 1920s and 1930s Emily Carr continued her journeys to places like the Queen Charlottes and other First Nations' settlements. Her work was finally being recognized and shown in places like London, Paris, Washington and Amsterdam as well as major Canadian cities.

In 1939 Emily Carr suffered a severe heart attack and was forced to move in with her sister Alice. She shifted her attention from painting to writing and with the help of her friend Ira Dilworth, who was principal of Victoria High School, Carr was able to see her first book Klee Wyck published in 1941. A year later Carr was awarded the Governor-General's award for non fiction for her debut literary work.

On March 2, 1945 - shortly before she was to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of British Columbia - Emily Carr died in the James Bay Inn in Victoria, British Columbia.

How Electrifying! By Jocelyn Chan
I want to thank the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, the DVBIA and the art students for inspiring these last two entries. Friday I will mention some more on Emily Carr and her works.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Emily Carr Part One

While travelling on the bus I have noticed some artwork on Granville Street so Saturday I walked down there with my camera and got a closer look. This is a project between the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design to beautify the city and hopefully cut down on graffiti. The artists have their work displayed on ugly, electrical boxes making the structures a piece of art.

This piece is aptly entitled Granville and was created by artist Joyce Inhwa Seo.

But I want to do more than just show you the artwork I photographed. I want to tell you about the woman behind the university, Emily Carr.

Carr was born in Victoria, the second youngest of six children. Her parents Richard and Emily Saunders Carr were English born and settled in Victoria due largely to the city's British influence. Here Richard Carr felt he would be able to raise his children in a decidedly English manner with all the customs the elder Carrs were used to. It was also possible for the senior Carrs to hold onto their British passports this way.

The family was quite religious and attended a Presbyterian church. The children were expected to be able to recite the sermon which is something Emily had difficulty with.

This is Whale Sounds 2 by Nick Goebel

The Carrs lived in a home that was in lavish English fashion with high ceilings, ornate mouldings and a parlour room. It was located on Birdcage Walk in the James Bay district of Victoria not far from the 'birdcages' or legislative buildings. (Birdcage Walk is now Government Street)

Emily's talents were supported and encouraged by her parents but it wasn't until after their death that Emily began to take her art seriously. She enrolled in the San Francisco Art School - the nearest proper art school - from 1890 to 1892. After her sojourn there she returned to her hometown of Victoria.

Now you are looking at 4 am by Zara Haque.
It was in 1898 that Carr made her first of several sketching and painting trips to the aboriginal (First Nations) villages. A year later Emily went to London to study at the Westminster School of Art. She also spent some time at an artist's colony in Cornwall before returning to British Columbia in 1905.

It was at the Ladies' Art Club that Emily Carr tried her hand at teaching the craft she loved. But that didn't work out so well and Carr only lasted a month since students started boycotting her classes. She was rude and smoked in class and cursed her students. We can't all teach. Some are better at doing.

This is Granville in the 50s by Sterling Richter.
In 1907 Emily and her sister Alice went on a holiday to Alaska. Once again Emily was enthralled by the artwork of the indigenous people she met. She was determined to document the sculptural and artistic legacy of these people using her art.

In 1910 Carr returned to Europe to advance her study of the ever changing trends in art. It was in Montparnasse with her sister Alice that Emily met the person who would influence her style of art. Henry Gibb,  a modernist painter, both shocked and intrigued the sisters with his use of vibrant color and distortion.

Arantxa Garcia created Van Origami.
Instead of the pastel colour scheme she was used to, Emily now adopted a colour palette of vibrancy. She returned to BC to exhibit some of her French paintings.

It was in 1912 that Carr painted her iconic work Big Raven, a painting of a carved raven. This painting and another entitled Tanoo were inspired by a trip she took that summer to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Skeena River.

Although there was some positive reaction to Carr's work her perception of the reaction was that it wasn't positive. She returned to Victoria and spent the next fifteen years doing little painting and running a boarding house called 'House of All Sorts'. She also wrote a book about her experiences at that time under the same name.
Wednesday I will tell you more about the Canadian icon Emily Carr and show you more of this impressive artwork.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Grey City Grid by Mark Illing

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