Wednesday, 28 August 2019
My Favourite Emily Carr Painting
Emily Carr (1871-1945) is one of my favourite Canadian artists. From her home in British Columbia, she struggled to achieve her artistic vision despite obscurity, poverty and eccentricity. As Wikipedia notes, her art was:
. . . inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes—forest scenes in particular.
This next image is of my favourite Emily Carr painting. Deeply spiritual in meaning, the painting depicts three trees, sole survivors of a brutal forest clearcutting operation. These trees are meant to remind us of the three crosses of Golgotha, where Christ and the two thieves were crucified. This time, however, the unspeakable crime is committed against Nature and Mother Earth. The clouds filling the sky, suffused with light streaming from heaven, ties into this spiritual theme as well. Carr's use of light in this painting was influenced by the style of her friend and early artistic/spiritual mentor, Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven (another favourite Canadian artist of mine).
Carr entitled this painting: Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky.
An exquisitely poetic title, isn't it! It's essentially a modern, free-form haiku, written long before such zen poetry came to North America.
I love the title as much as the painting. In seven little words, it perfectly expresses that the true value of Nature is never to be measured or judged by its commercial or economic worth.
When we were in Vancouver earlier this month, we spent some time at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Guess what it had on display!
For years, I had a reproduction of this painting in my office. I've seen the original painting only three times in my life -- once on loan to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, once on loan to the National Gallery in Ottawa, and now once again at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is the painting's permanent home.
Each time I've seen it has been a wonderful gift.
[First 2 photos from the internet; 3rd photo taken by My Rare One, August 2019]