Art Gallery of Greater Victoria - Emily Carr: On the edge of nowhere

Emily Carr: On the edge of nowhere
Opening 30 June, 2010 -

Although Emily Carr described herself as an “isolated little old woman on the edge of nowhere” her work has an appeal that is universal in its expressive messages rather than strictly limited to regional depictions of British Columbia.

When people visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV), located in Carr’s hometown however, it is here that they expect to find a significant representation of her work. For many years now the AGGV has provided a modest on-going display of Carr’s art production from its collection. In response to our audience’s requests, we are about to expand the scope and physical space of the Carr exhibition.

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria will create a larger, semi-permanent (3 year long) exhibition with an accompanying educational brochure and interactive multi-media station providing visitors an opportunity to learn about Emily Carr through a survey of her career. This exhibition at the AGGV will become the premiere destination on Vancouver Island to visit and learn about Emily Carr through her paintings. In the development of this exhibition, we are working with a consultation team including staff from various areas of the AGGV, as well as outside consultants such as Jan Ross, Emily Carr House, Kerry Mason, University of Victoria, and educators from local school districts.

This exhibition will display a historical survey of Emily Carr’s artwork in all media and styles in which she worked. It will also focus on Carr’s influences and inspirations, such as European modern art, members of the Group of Seven artists, First Nations artists, Carr’s spirituality, her interest in developing an art that speaks of her personal experience and her connection to the West Coast landscape. The framework for the exhibition will be hinged upon the idea of Carr as Victoria’s first modernist and will be contextualized with a section on Carr’s influence upon other members of the British Columbia artists community such as Jack Shadbolt, Max Maynard, Statira Frame, Nan Cheney, Myfanwy Pavelic, and Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher. 

For this project, the Gallery faces a challenge related to the limitations of our collection. This situation results from the fact that upon Carr’s death, there was no public gallery in Victoria, so the majority of her works did not remain here. Although the AGGV has a fine collection of 42 works with strengths in the areas of her very early work and her later career, it has very little in the way of her mid-career painting focusing on First Nations villages and totems. To this end we look to other collections to share some key examples of Carr’s work to flesh out the representation of her middle career.

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