"It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she's something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of."
Born in 1871 as British Columbia joined became a province of Canada, Emily Carr truly represents the development of a West Coast identity. Her early years were spent in Victoria, where she became enraptured with the forests and beaches outside of her father’s orderly English garden. Emily went on to study art in San Francisco and England, where she found the most pleasure in painting outdoors. After teaching art and traveling around the West Coast, gaining a passion for depicting First Nations villages and art, Emily traveled to France and gained a fresh perspective on art with an introduction to the free, expressionist styles gaining popularity in Europe at that time. Upon her return to B.C., she set out to continue her documentation of the First Nations people of the West Coast with her French style.
Unfortunately, in the following years, the state of the economy forced her to drastically reduce her time spent on art as she worked hard as a landlady and dog breeder. Eventually these hard times became the inspiration for the many stories she wrote and published in her later years. In 1927, Emily was invited to participate in and exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada called Canadian West Coast Art, Native and Modern. This trip to Ontario led her to Lawren Harris and other members of the Group of Seven. The ideas of spirituality in the Canadian landscape that they were experimenting with served as inspiration for Emily to expand her style to her iconic, powerful paintings that she is most well known for today. She continued to travel as much as possible to the First Nations villages and forests that she shared with the world through her art.
In her later years, declining health kept her close to her home in Victoria, exploring the landscapes of Mount Douglas, Beacon Hill Park and Goldstream. Besides her writing, Emily also created joyous works with oil on paper of the skies and trees that represented to her the pinnacle of spirituality until her death in 1945. Her vision of the West Coast landscape remains both influential and beloved.