A Guide to Women in Canadian History
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Emily Carr (1871-1945)
Archives and Library Canada 4282
Emily Carr grew up in a strict household in Victoria, B.C., where her English parents had settled. Orphaned in her early teens, she managed to convince her guardians to let her study art in San Francisco at the California School of Design. During her later studies in England and France she began to develop a distinctive style of painting that produced bold and colourful canvases that would eventually make her a Canadian icon.
But Emily Carr's journey of self-discovery was a painful one. Unable to support herself through her art, she focused on managing an apartment house in Victoria for 15 years. It wasn't until 1927 that Emily Carr came to the attention of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and was welcomed by the Group of Seven painters when she exhibited some of her work. Renewed by the contact with these talented artists, Emily Carr began to paint vivid pictures of the natural world and West Coast native peoples.
It was only near the end of her life that Emily Carr began to be recognized as an exceptional painter as well as a writer. Her first book, Klee Wyck, won a Governor General's Award. Her paintings now hang in galleries across Canada and the fascinating life of Emily Carr is celebrated in a multitude of books and films.
An impressive bronze statue of Emily Carr, created by sculptor Barbara Paterson, was unveiled in Victoria on October 13, 2010.
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