Emily Carr – A Trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery

My family took me up to Vancouver BC for my birthday a few weeks ago – what a fabulous gift! We took the Amtrak Cascades up, which was a relaxing way to go, especially with two kids. We stayed downtown at the Pacific Palisades and spent the next two days walking, busing, or sky training around the city. I recommend visiting a city two weeks before they host the Olympics – very festive but without the crowd.

vancouver british columbia art gallery robson square winter january downtown

Vancouver Art Gallery from Robson Square.

The first thing I did was drag my family to the Vancouver Art Gallery. I was so excited to be able to see some of Emily Carr’s work in person! Emily Carr was a Canadian artist who lived and worked in the early 20th century. I think this quote from her biography sums her up nicely:

“Her life is irrevocably connected with the Canadian West, the place where she was born and where she chose to spend her life, with only a few brief interruptions. Her independence as a woman when domesticity was expected, her resolve to travel frequently and unaccompanied to isolated First Nations villages, and her devotion to art despite the obstacles, distractions and criticism, remain inspirational.”

I forget how wonderful it is to see works in real life! I’m always astounded by their size and depth and pull.

"Tree Trunk", Emily Carr © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

“Tree Trunk”, Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

I’m sure anyone who has seen my work would understand why I love this so much. Look at that tree! How it ripples and twists, dark yet vibrant! Wow.

"Forest, British Columbia, 1931 - 1932", Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

“Forest, British Columbia, 1931 – 1932”, Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

Oh, to follow that path! This painting is amazing… at 51 inches high you just feel like you can step into this world. I went to college on the northern California coast and lived among the giant redwoods for five years. I see her Forest and I know it, the damp and the dark and the mystery. I love how the treetops are not clear cut (ha ha), how the branches come from every which way.

"Above the Gravel Pit, 1937", Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

“Above the Gravel Pit, 1937”, Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

Look at that sky! It is like rippling glass.

"Above the Trees", Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

“Above the Trees”, Emily Carr (Photo: Trevor Mills) © Vancouver Art Gallery, all rights reserved

I love looking up towards the sky through a grove of trees, and I always wish I could capture that on paper. Emily Carr does it here, though this little image doesn’t do it justice. I love the movement in this piece, and the stunningly bold colors.

I had a great time in Vancouver, and I can’t wait to go back in a non-soggy month and for a longer period of time. We got just a taste of the great trees on a brief visit to Stanley Park.

Stanley Park, late afternoon.

Stanley Park, late afternoon.

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4 Responses

  1. Kerri says:

    I know this is an older post but I thought I should drop you a note anyway. I am Canadian and very much in love with Emily Carr. I read everything I can get written about her and written by her. I came upon your site while searching for an image of a Carr painting for my blog post. I was fortunate to take in the exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta today with my class. As always, I was left in awe of the beauty and brilliance of her work and frankly put I love her. It is nice to read another person and artists’ praise of her work.

  2. lesley says:

    Thank you! I really enjoyed your post about her. She was really an amazing artist.

  3. Brendan McClarty says:

    What a wonderful post. I know it was published four years ago, but anything to do with Emily Carr is always relevant. Are you aware that there is currently another exhibition dedicated to Emily Carr on at the VAG? It is entitled: Emily Carr: Deep Forest, and it runs until March 9th.
    I love how you shared the pictures of her works with the credits at the bottom of each. I would truly appreciate knowing where you found them, or how you were able to share them with the text attached. I, too, love Emily’s work and wish to share them, but with the proper acknowledgement. I thank you for your assistance.

    • Lesley says:

      Hi Brendan! I didn’t know there was another exhibition. I’m down in Portland and we sort of happened to take a trip to Vancouver at the same time as the last show. Wish I could go up again! I can’t quite remember where I found all the photos, but it was certainly at sites like this: http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/emily_carr/en/about/landscape.php Thankfully the site gives all the credit info. I saved the image to my computer to upload back up to my blog. When in the “I just uploaded this photo” screen, there is a place called Edit Image Caption, and that is where I can get the text to sort of be part of the picture. Hope that helps! I’m using an older version of WordPress.

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