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Emily Carr: See her Legendary Works in Toronto and London this Winter

The exhibition reveals Emily Carr’s view of British Columbia’s coastal rainforest, sea and sky

Sky - Emily CarrSky, 1935-1936, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

The first time Emily Carr travelled to London, in 1899, to study painting at the age of 28, it wasn't a success. She found her teachers at the Westminster School of Art uninspiring, and life in the Big Smoke didn't agree with her West Coast sensibilities. She retreated to a rural art colony in the Cornish seaside town of St. Ives but worked herself into a nervous state and was sent to convalesce, that popular 19th-century activity, in Suffolk for 18 months. Five years after leaving Vancouver Island, she returned home.

Indian Church - Emily CarrIndian Church, 1929, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. above Sky, 1935-1936, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Last fall, Emily Carr came back to London, bringing British Columbia with her. The Dulwich Picture Gallery exhibition From the Forest to the Sea, on view until early March – the joint project with the Art Gallery of Ontario moves to Toronto in April – brings together nearly 100 paintings and sketches, along with ceremonial rattles, masks, baskets and other artifacts from the Pacific Northwest Coast. Whether in London or Toronto this spring, you'll find yourself surrounded by Carr's dense, temperate rainforest, where the only source of light might be the glow from a luminescent white church that's set back in a clearing.

Cumshewa - Emily CarrCumshewa, 1912, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Next, Carr takes you to Vancouver Island's east coast, all the way to Prince Rupert on the mainland, up the Skeena River and over to Haida Gwaii, past abandoned settlements that she depicts in earlier watercolours, until you come face to face with the sea and expansive, lavender-inflected Pacific skies. Toward the end of her life, no longer well enough to travel widely on the coast, Carr made a number of paintings near her home in Victoria, where she captured the purples and greys of the B.C. sky. Experiencing the coast this way, through her eyes, it's easy to see why the artist was always happiest when she was on her way home.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Rd., 44-20-8693-5254, (until March 8)
Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648, (April 11–July 12)



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