25 November 2014

From the Forest to the Sea – Emily Carr in British Columbia

This intriguing exhibition about one of Canada's best-loved artists has just opened at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Emily Carr spent a great part of her life in British Columbia, in particular Haida Gwaii, documenting the things she found around her such as totem poles, trees and skyscapes.
I was lucky to be able to attend the press launch which started with a traditional welcome by the Haida Hereditary Chief and Master Carver, James Hart, accompanied by some of his people. It was rather strange, standing there in our modern garb, watching people in tribal dress perform songs and dances that were centuries old in surroundings that were also old but completely different in style.


The exhibition shows how Emily's work evolved over time. It highlights especially how her style changed and became bolder after her time spent in Paris where she honed her painting skills. Returning to Canada she continued to develop, and devised mixes of different types of paint which she used on cheap paper so that she could paint with speed outdoors. Sadly that paper has since discoloured, but what the heck, the paintings still look great; white space has just become pale brown space.
The exhibition begins and ends with display cabinets containing relevant tribal artefacts from various museums including two of my favourites, The Horniman and Pitt Rivers.
The exhibition runs until 8th March. More information here.

Ian Dejardin leading our guided tour, some reflected heads, Haida indigenous objects.
Emily Carr self portrait, and some of her totems and trees

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