The statue of Emily Carr, located in downtown Victoria, depicts a near caricature of a complex and fascinating woman, says reenactor Molly Raher Newman.
Newman says the artist and writer was so much more than the irascible eccentric with a pet monkey on her shoulder depicted by the statue and she regrets it’s an image that’s become a commonly accepted view of the B.C. icon.
Newman has spent 19 years trying to dispel that image and give a more realistic view of Carr and her work. and, on Oct. 13, she will board a train in Vancouver as part of a re-enactment of Carr’s well documented 1927 trip.
“It’s not commonly known that Carr stopped painting between 1914 and 1927. It was that trip from Vancouver to Ottawa to see her first paintings on display at the National Gallery that got her painting again. It’s where she met the Group of Seven painters and was inspired. I want to re-live that turning point in Emily’s life,” Newman said.
The whole project has been funded through the Toonie a Leaf interactive fundraiser as part of a Canada 150 initiative conceived by Newman to celebrate Canada’s birthday and raise awareness of Emily Carr’s legacy. People have donated funds and write a message o large paper leaves which, in turn, were made part of a seven-foot-high and twenty-four-long canvas of an arbutus tree painting by Newman.
“It’s a birthday card to Canada from Emily and myself and it’s going to be installed on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. There’s a shout out planned from the floor of the House as I sit in the gallery and then Murray Rankin has organized a reception at Parliament to celebrate,” explained Newman.
The trip will include an educational component as well as Newman will visit six cities in character as Emily Carr to deliver three different programs: and educational school appearance, Tea with Emily Carr, and a one woman theatrical play about Carr’s famous Crystal Garden speech, Fresh Seeing.
Along the way, Newman will stay in character, doing her own painting in the dome car of the train as it snakes its way across Canada.
When she returns, she intends to showcase her work at a variety of locations, including an event at the Sooke Harbour House on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
The presentation, sponsored by the Sooke Community Arts Council and Sooke Harbour House, is free to the public and will give Sooke residents a chance to meet Newman, in character as Emily Carr, and to view the paintings that Newman will have completed while travelling across the country.
Newman is an accomplished actress, musician, singer and puppeteer who has performed internationally in a variety of productions. She has written a series of books on Emily Carr and her personal appearances as Carr have become the gold standard in B.C.’s recognition of the famous artist and writer.