Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Emily Carr’s indelible mark on Canadian art landscape explored

A detail of Emily Carr's Tree Trunk, 1931, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Trevor Mills/Vancouver Art Gallery

"In the forest think of the forest, not of this tree and that but the singing movement of the whole," Emily Carr wrote in her journal in 1935. Emily Carr: Deep Forest, now at the Vancouver Art Gallery, features more than 40 of the extraordinary forest paintings she created mostly in the 1930s, a crucial period in her artistic process.

With the encouragement of Lawren Harris, she had returned to art with a new focus on the forest landscape rather than the totemic work that had defined her earlier work. The pieces in Deep Forest, almost all from the VAG's permanent collection, are alive with the light, the darkness, the spiritual forces in the forest.

There is often a sense of danger lurking in the canopied lushness, and power. Take Tree Trunk, 1931. The magnificent brown trunk dominates, thrust before curtains of green and blue foliage. The painting has strong overtones of life, sexuality, strength. The Georgia O'Keeffe influence here is apparent.

Story continues below advertisement

"There's nothing else like this in her work," says Ian Thom, the gallery's senior curator, historical, who curated the exhibition. He says these paintings were the culmination of Carr's practice; it was the forests of British Columbia that allowed her to express her vision. "It's really the pictures she paints after 1928 that made her a great painter." Emily Carr: Deep Forest, at the Vancouver Art Gallery until March 9, 2014.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨