Professor Jack Lohman

Carr’s works heading for London exhibit

Emily Carr's artistic works to star in exhibit in London next month

  • Oct. 8, 2014 1:00 p.m.

By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

VICTORIA – Emily Carr’s brooding, post-impressionistic paintings of West Coast aboriginal villages and British Columbia’s dark rain forests will soon appear in the same English art gallery that holds collections by masters like Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Rubens.

London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery, founded in 1811, is staging a six-month Carr exhibit called From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia. It runs from Nov. 1 to March 8.

“The first UK exhibition dedicated to Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most beloved and esteemed artists, virtually unknown outside Canada,” said a statement from Dulwich. “The exhibition will trace a dramatic trajectory from darkness to light.”

Royal B.C. Museum officials provided a sneak peak Tuesday of many of the pieces that will be part of the exhibit. The museum has the world’s largest collection of more than 1,100 of Carr’s works, including sketches, rugs and pottery, which are stored in a bunker in the museum.

Twenty-five of Carr’s works will be on loan to the Dulwich gallery, said the museum’s chief executive officer Jack Lohman.

He said he expects the London exhibit to generate huge international interest in Carr and the B.C. museum.

“Like all Canadian artists, she needs to be better known to be perfectly honest,” Lohman said. “The fact that she’s on at a national museum, one of the most significant national museums in London, means that she’s going to be very well known after this.”

He said more than a million people could pass through the museum during Carr’s exhibit.

“This sort of has a glow effect,” Lohman said, adding a one-day symposium featuring Carr scholars is being held in London on Oct. 31, the day before the official opening of the exhibit.

The B.C. museum’s Carr expert, Kathryn Bridge, said the early 20th century Haida Gwaii village scene Carr called Tanoo, Queen Charlotte Islands, will be the exhibit’s centrepiece.

Bridge said the painting, completed in 1913, is the largest in the museum’s collection and is a magnificent example of her interpretation of West Coast aboriginal culture.

“She was really a product of her time,” Bridge said. “She thought that First Nations art and culture was dying, and she, as an artist, had a particular opportunity to ensure that images like this would not be lost.”

Carr visited remote and abandoned First Nations villages on her own, sketching what she saw, and completed the major works in her Victoria studio, she said.

“For a woman in 1912, it was quite an unusual thing to do,” Bridge said. “She was dreadfully seasick, but she travelled nevertheless in small fishing boats to get to these abandoned villages.”

She said the museum’s Carr collection has all her important paintings and masses of other material, including sketch books, letters, journals and diaries.

“We know what was going through her mind at the time all through her life,” Bridge said.

Carr, one of Canada’s most eccentric and well-known artists, was born in Victoria in 1871 and died in 1945. She did not achieve fame during her lifetime.

Bridge said that in 1932, Carr’s friends raised $36 to buy one of her paintings and donated it to the B.C. government.

“They thought it was scandalous the government didn’t own anything by this then, really, undiscovered artist.”

The painting is called Kispiox Village, and its pinks and blues depicting life in a northwest B.C. aboriginal community is an example of Carr’s post-impressionistic phase after her year in France, Bridge said. The only estimate she could give of the painting’s current value would be that the $36 would be followed by several zeros.

Carr’s home in Victoria is a tourist attraction and a bronze statue in the city’s downtown shows her with her pet money Woo and her mixed-breed dog Beckie.

Just Posted

Police seek potential victims of bad ‘nanny’

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Oak Bay firefighters help fund new Monterey playground

Sausage Fest cash handed over to Monterey PAC

Paving complete, lines coming to the Malahat this week

$34 million safety project is 95 per cent complete with hope to relieve traffic congestion between Victoria and Nanaimo

Only tent city residents allowed access at Goldstream Park campsites

Local RCMP point to reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area as cause for safety concerns

Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Langford residents opposed to campers voice concerns at campground gate

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read