Few artists impact the world equally with their paintings and paragraphs. Van Gogh was one, Emily Carr (1871–1945) another, and she was one of the first Canadian artists of national significance to emerge from the West Coast. During her life she felt her artistic career was a failure. Saddled with a sense of professional and personal isolation and rejection, she persevered and her vision of Canada is now iconic. Carr travelled extensively, learning from European, American, and indigenous forms and receiving formal training at art academies as well as with private tutors. She continued to grow in artistic power throughout her life as a result of her own intense observation and of her vigorous experimentation with a variety of methods and media, reflecting the fusion of wide-ranging influences.
“Emily Carr is one of Canada’s best-known artists. Her life and work reflect a profound commitment to the land and peoples she knew and loved. Her sensitive evocations reveal an artist grappling with the spiritual questions that the Canadian landscape and culture inspired in her.”Lisa Baldissera
Along with the Group of Seven, Carr became a leading figure in Canadian modern art in the early twentieth century. Emily Carr: Life & Work explores the artist’s trajectory from her life in Victoria, where she struggled to receive acceptance, to her status as one of Canada’s most influential artists. This book documents Carr’s resiliency and adventurous spirit, which led her to visualize depictions of the British Columbia landscape in a uniquely modern and spiritual manner. Her work became an articulation of the country’s national identity and an inspiration to subsequent generations.
Lisa Baldissera is an artist, writer, and curator who has produced more than fifty exhibitions of contemporary art in public art institutions in Canada since 1999. She is enrolled in the PhD program at Goldsmiths, University of London, where her research began with a focus on Emily Carr during her London years (1899–1904).
Banner: Emily Carr, Above the Gravel Pit, 1937, oil on canvas, 77.2 x 102.3 cm, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Portrait: Harold Mortimer-Lamb, Emily Carr in Her Studio, 1939, Vancouver Art Gallery.