Artworks and Artists
Emily Carr
Born in Victoria, British Columbia, 13 December 1871
Died in Victoria, British Columbia, 02 March 1945
Image H-02811 courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives

Emily Carr

Emily Carr was a painter and writer whose lifelong inspiration was her native British Columbia environment. Through her paintings of totem poles and the Canadian west-coast sky and forests, Carr demonstrated her desire to paint in a 'big' way, that which she felt fit with the expansiveness of Canada.

Carr studied at the California School of Design in San Francisco (1890-1893). When she returned to Victoria, she converted the family barn into a studio where she could paint and teach children's art classes. She first sketched Native subject matter when she visited the village of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island in 1899. Carr traveled to England in 1899, where she continued her studies in London and at St. Ives in Cornwall. She was happy to return to Canada, first to Victoria and then to Vancouver to teach. In 1907 on a trip to Alaska she sketched First Nations totem poles in their settings, determined to document these disappearing sites. In search of a bigger vision of art, she returned to Europe and worked near Paris and in Brittany in 1910- 1911 where she was introduced to the work of the Fauves, French artists who were dubbed the 'wild beasts' for their daring use of bright colours.

After her return, in 1912 she made a six-week sketching trip to fifteen coastal villages along the coast of British Columbia. In 1927, both Marius Barbeau and Eric Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, visited her studio. Brown invited her to participate in the Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art (1927). While in the region, she met members of the Group of Seven. After the success of this trip, Carr returned to Victoria and began the most prolific period of her career. She worked with Aboriginal subjects until around 1930, then focused on the trees and forests.