Artist Profile: Emily Carr

Emily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871, and is one of Canada’s most significant and renowned artists. She trained at the California School of Design in San Francisco, returned to Victoria in 1893 to work as an art teacher, before travelling to the UK for a short stint of training at the Westminster School of Art in London.

Her attention to the natural world around her and the totemic reflection of that in First Nations culture set her apart. First Nations carvings first captured her imagination on a trip to Alaska in 1907, but it wasn’t until she had spent another period of further training in France that the iconography of the First Nations began to appear in her subject matter.

She produced the first of her major canvases on this theme in 1913, using bright colours and broken brushwork in the style of the Fauves. It wasn’t until 1927, when her work was included in a national exhibition, that she received widespread recognition, including encouragement from the influential Group of Seven artists.

In the 1930s she turned her attention towards landscapes and forests, working outdoors with oil on paper. These later works are among some of her most important contributions to Canadian art. She died in 1945, acknowledged as one of Canada’s most important and influential artists.

For 2015, Canada House presents Carr’s oil-on-canvas painting Wood Interior (1932-35). Graciously on loan from the Vancouver Art Gallery through the Emily Carr Trust, hopefully this is the first of many more opportunities to showcase Carr’s work in the years to come.

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