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New Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibition explores work of Emily Carr

Seeing and Being Seen continues through July 2022
Left, Harold Mortimer Lamb, Emily Carr in her studio, c.1939 (1980.087.003). Right, Emily Carr, Totem Walk at Sitka, 1907 (1994.055.004)

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria has opened a new exhibition examining how Emily Carr saw the land and sites she painted in British Columbia, and how she’s seen by both artists and historians.

“Emily Carr’s legacy is intertwined with the land and sites of this region. She is celebrated for the way in which she articulated what she saw in these landscapes through painting and for how she interpreted and portrayed Indigenous village sites, landmarks and culture,” says AGGV Acting Chief Curator and exhibition co-curator, Nicole Stanbridge.

Continuing through July 2022, Emily Carr: Seeing and Being Seen is divided into two sections.

In Seeing, the gallery explores how Carr documented what was around her, highlighting many of the works she’s admired for today. Displaying 13 of Carr’s works from the AGGV collection including, including Odds and Ends, Big Eagle at Skidegate and Above the Gravel Pit, the focus here is on bringing a more fulsome narrative to the intersection of land and cultures that Carr documented through her work.

The selected artworks show what Carr recorded through her paintings at these sites, and what other stories and lived experiences exist there – the stories, peoples and cultural significance that long precede these fleeting moments captured by a settler person at a very specific point and perspective in time.

The second part pf the exhibition, Being Seen, focuses on how artists and historians of various backgrounds and worldviews have reacted, and continue to react to, and interpret Carr’s legacy and body of work.

Being Seen examines works by other artists impacted by Carr’s legacy – artists who admire her work, historians who adore her, and works that hold her accountable and critique her engagement with Indigenous peoples.

Showcased in this section are artists such as Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher, Pat Martin Bates, Jack Shadbolt, Isabel Hobbs and Joan Cardinal-Schubert, offering many varied perspectives to engage with. Schubert’s work titled Birch Bark Letters to Emily Carr: Astrolobe Discovery depicts letters written to and imagined conversations between Carr and the artist of Kainaiwa ancestry.

“All of these artists see Carr through their own unique vantage point, and contribute to the ongoing discussion about what her work and legacy represent. The lens through which artists are seen by others shapes their legacy throughout their lives and after they are gone, and Emily Carr is no exception,” says exhibition co-curator, Mel Granley.

The exhibition, which runs in the AGGV’s Graham Gallery through July 2022

When it first opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria exhibited art in the historic 1889 Spencer Mansion that is now adjacent to its seven exhibition galleries, constructed between 1955 and 1978. With almost 20,000 works of art, the Art Gallery has the largest public collection in BC and is a vibrant and active part of Victoria’s artistic community.

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