Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wordy Thursday with Wild Woman: the Art of Emily Carr

Today, my Toadly friends, we are immersing ourselves in the art of Canadian artist Emily Carr, a visionary artist ahead of her time, whose paintings celebrate the wild beauty of Vancouver Island.

Ms Carr, born in Victoria, B.C., in 1871, is a national treasure. Her work was inspired by the spectacular landscapes surrounding her, as well as by her interest in the Northwest Coast First Nations.  A single woman who struggled to get by, she was outspoken and considered eccentric, as all the best poets and artists are, in my humble opinion.

Orphaned in her early teens, she persuaded her guardians to send her to the California School of Design when she turned eighteen. After a long illness, in 1910, she went to France to break free of conventional painting and to explore the new modernist art. There, she developed her own colourful post-impressionist style and brought it back to Victoria in 1912.

At a time when aboriginal culture was thought to be dying,  Carr had a strong interest in documenting the culture, their houses, totems and masks. She made a trip to what is now Haida Gwaii in 1912. The material she gathered there was source material for one of the two great themes of her painting career: the material presence of Aboriginal culture, and the wild landscape of the west coast of Canada.

Her life as a single woman, and an artist, was difficult. She could not support herself with her painting, so she ran a boarding house for financial survival, and did little painting during the next fifteen years.

But at 57, her work was finally recognized, and she returned to her art with renewed vigor. With deepening vision, she began to focus on nature themes.

She was one of the only recognized female painters of that era, and is one of the Group of Seven, the famous group of artists whose work is still revered today. 

A heart attack in 1937 began a decline in the artist's health. She died in Victoria in 1945.

Her Victorian house in James Bay, Victoria, has been restored and  is now a national and provincial historic site.

Emily Carr House

Her work is in the B.C. Archives and the B.C. Museum. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria  has some of her work on display, as does the Vancouver Art Gallery.  In her lifetime, she produced one hundred paintings, one thousand sketches, a book of short stories and four autobiographical works, two published posthumously. The book of stories, about her experiences with First Nations, was titled Klee Wyck; it won a Governor General’s award.

Emily Carr is now appreciated as an important twentieth century artist and a Canadian icon. In 2001-2002, she was included alongside Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kalo in a critically acclaimed touring exhibition titled Places of Their Own, organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Here are some of her major painted works:

Totem Forest

Totem and Forest


Mountain Forest

Blue Sky

Red Cedar


For your prompt, choose whichever of her paintings appeals to you and write your poem (or choose your own at Emily Carr Artworks, including the painting and its source with your poem)


Imagine yourself as an artist in the late 1800’s,  with a passion for art but struggling to make a living, and speak to us with that voice. Have fun! 


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Hi kids, here on the West Coast, it isnt midnight yet on Wednesday. I look forward to waking up in the morning and reading your responses. Hope you have fun, and that the prompt leaves a lot of scope for your muse.

grapeling said...

These are beautiful, Sherry. Thanks for the introduction to Ms. Carr's luminous artwork. ~

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Lovely to see you, Michael!

Vivian Zems said...

Thanks Sherry! A wonderful collection here.

Jim said...

Victoria, B.C, is a lovely place to di in. I hope she had one last basket of fish and chips by the water before she went.
I'm glad she helped preserve the totem pole beauty. We have them in Alaska also.

tonispencer said...

Very interesting! Totem poles are interesting and awe inspiring. Thank you for this introduction to an artist whose work looks like totems.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I hope you find something here that sparks your muse. This past year one of the carvers gifted our village with a totem pole. It was such an awesome thing, seeing it go up. We all turned out to watch. It sits in the park overlooking the harbour.

Margaret said...

I hope to submit sketching for this challenge on the next Tuesday Platform. I am in NJ And NYC visiting children - and seeing Broadways Aladdin . .

Margaret said...

Something. Not sketching.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Either something OR sketching would be lovely, Margaret. Enjoy Aladdin. It is always a joy to be with one's cool they live in New York!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sara and Toni, please check your spam folders on your sites....?????? I have left comments that do not seem to be posting and this happened with someone else recently and she found my comments in her spam folder....most annoying. NO idea why this is happening but it is especially distressing when I have a prompt up and people think I am not commenting. I will keep checking back to see if my comments pop up. Meanwhile, I loved both your poems so much!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Vivian, my comment didnt post on yours either yesterday I just discovered. Please check your spam file. I am so sorry for this very annoying glitch.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Brendan, sdame with your site...left two comments, nothing posted. No idea what is going on. MY APOLOGIES. Will keep trying to get to the bottom of this.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Okay after a mild panic attack, I realized I could comment using my facebook login, so all is well - my apologies for how long it took for my comments to reach some of you. It seems wordpress and blogger sometimes dont recognize each other.

Marian said...

Sherry, wow, this is a really wonderful and inspiring prompt! Thank you so much for the introduction to Emily Carr. I was out of sorts this week but am around now and for the week ahead so look forward to some writing. Thanks again, I'm going to dig in and explore the work of Emily Carr some more. xo

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

Hi Sherry! Thank you so much for sharing Emily Carr's art- it is spectacular. I was drawn to all of them but most especially Blue Sky. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I am happy you found her interesting, my friends. Her work is quite amazing.

Lori said...

I love the artwork of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven. I'm late to the party (again) it's been a busy summer but a short little piece based of one of her works and titles.