A Canadian woman who defined an era and herself

Today’s entry for Canada week is a true Canadian icon, artist and writer Emily Carr.

Emily Carr

Best known for her paintings of aboriginal themes and landscapes, Carr, through her autobiographical writing, was also one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia.

Klee Wyck- by Emily Carr

As noteworthy as her writings were, it was her paintings that she is primarily remembered for. She explored themes in a unique modern style that no one else was exploring at the time. She had a real affinity for the indigenous peoples of British Columbia and celebrated their totems and villages in her work.

The Crying Totem- 1928

Kwakiutl House

Carr’s work can be divided into three distinct phases. her early work, before she studied in Paris.

 Canoes- 1908

Her work from her time in Paris from 1910 to 1912.

House In Brittany- 1911

And finally her work after her encounter with the Group Of Seven, in the 1930’s… the work, for which she is best known.

 A rushing sea of undergrowth- 1932

The Mountain- 1933

Cedar Sanctuary- 1942

Self Portrait- 1938

Her association with the Group of Seven (Canada’s most recognized modern painters of the time) took her out of a 15 year artistic isolation and put her in a social circle of her peers for the first time. This acceptance by her peers reinvigorated her sense of purpose as an artist and inspired her most recognized works.

Carr’s most famous painting, Big Raven-1931

Carr was not only a great talent, but a darling of the women’s movement, as she was succeeding against the odds. She was a successful artist in a decidedly inartistic society. She lived in seclusion, far away from any major art center, carving out her own path. In a time when women’s roles were clearly defined, Carr was undefinable.

WOW The world of wearable art

Lady Curiosity- one of the 2010 winners

You wouldn’t wear any of these creations to the grocery store, but whoever said art was practical? Every year in Wellington, New Zealand holds an exhibition of artists from all over the world who create wearable art. Held in September, this exhibit and competition is a two hour long, live theatrical show and it’s unbelievable what some of these artists come up with.

Lady of the Wood- one of the 2009 winners

The above creation was entirely made of wood, right down to the wood shavings used for her hair. What strikes me most about this piece is the fit of the bodice and the sleeves. The level of creativity is astounding.

WOW began in 1987 in the rural town of Nelson as a promotion for their local art gallery. It was the idea of Dame Susie Moncrieff to use the live theatrical show format and from there the show expanded each and every year. Now WOW enjoys international acclaim.

Hide in my Bone Shadow- one of the 2011 winners

New Zealand has long held a place on my bucket list and it seems, with each passing year, it moves up a spot. As a huge Tolkien fan, I have long wanted to visit Hobbittown.


I am also enamoured with big cats must go and see the famous Lion Man.

The Lion Man- Craig Busch

As both an art lover and a bit of a fashionista, and having only recently heard of the World of Wearable Art Show, I have yet another reason to want to travel to New Zealand. As I mentioned earlier, artists world wide exhibit and compete each year and one of last year’s winners even comes from my own home country.

Skin, Marjolein Dallinga, Canada- one of the 2011 winners

 If you would like more information about WOW, the World of Wearable Art, or to view more of these amazing creations, go to their website  or take a look at some video footage of the show on their YouTube page.

The next best thing to being there

The Coronation of Josephine- Jacques Louis David

I’ve been to the Louvre Museum in Paris. I remember standing in front of the Mona Lisa and thinking, ‘I don’t get what all the fuss is about.’ It’s a tiny painting behind reflective glass and armed guards. Yes, it was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, who had one of the best eyes for human anatomy ever, but standing there staring at this masterpiece left me cold. There was a painting I was wowed by that day titled The Coronation of Josephine. The rich, saturated colours and almost photographic detail were like nothing I’d ever seen in a painting. If I hadn’t been in the Louvre, chances are I would never have discovered this beautiful painting. Conversely, if I hadn’t been in the Louvre, chances are I never would have been so underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa.

Inside the State Hermitage Museum

 A museum that is currently on my bucket list is the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s likely that I will never get the chance to be witness to it’s opulence in person. There are quite a few museums on my bucket list from all over the world. While I may never get to see their contents right in front of me, Google has created the next best thing. http://www.googleartproject.com/ which gives access to 155 art collections and counting. The images of the artwork are all high resolution and each collection features a virtual tour of the gallery in which each collection is housed.

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles

From the comfort of my home, I have been to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Tate Gallery in London, the Palace of Versailles, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and yes, even the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. While it’s not the same experience as being there, it is the closest I may ever get to seeing some of the world’s greatest artistic masterpieces inside some of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces.

So thank you to Google for creating the next best thing to being there for those of us who dream of being there.