Emily Carr was an artist who was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1871. She is most well-known for her paintings of nature and Native themes, such as totem poles, Native buildings, trees, and portraits. She had lots of animals, including parrots, Old English Sheepdogs, and even a monkey named Woo. She even made dresses for her monkey! In a lot of her life she was sick, but her love of animals continued. When she was sick in England at a sanatorium in Suffolk, she raised nests of songbirds in her room. Later in her life, she switched from Old English Sheepdogs to the smaller Belgian Griffins. Later in her life she bought a camping trailer and called it “The Elephant.”
Her father – Richard Carr – owned a grocery store. Unfortunately, both of her parents died when she was 16. She went an art college in San Francisco, California for 3 years, and then went home and started teaching children. She later started teaching adults too, but realized that her love was to teach children. She never married and the love of her life was her art.
She started painting with watercolours, but switched to oil paints and a Post-Impressionist style. She felt that watercolours couldn’t portray what she wanted and went back to Europe looking for something new. The Post-Impressionists were using oil paints and less realistic styles. One of her goals was to paint as many native carvings as she could.
Because her art was not well accepted, she tried to make money in other ways. She rented out her house to tenants, hooked rugs, painted ballroom decorations, made pottery to sell, and took a writing course to write stories.
In 1927 she participated in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. During the trip there, she met Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven in Toronto. In 1937 she had a heart attack and spent more time writing. Her first book was called “Klee Wyck.” She died in 1945 at 73 years old.
We learned about Emily Carr from the book “At the Edge of the World” by Jo Ellen Bogart and illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse.