A new look at the art of Emily Carr that explores the profound impact of her time spent in France early in her career, by two of our most distinguished writers on art.
In 1911, Emily Carr returned from a sixteen-month trip to France with a new understanding of French Modernism and a radically transformed painting style, one that broke free from the artistic shackles of her conservative training and embraced a new means of expression. Her studio experiences in Paris, her en plein-air painting in the French countryside, and her encounters with such artists as expatriate English painter William Henry Phelan Gibb, Scottish painter John Duncan Fergusson, and New Zealand watercolourist Frances Hodgkins had a profound impact on her work.
Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing focuses on the dramatic changes in her painting style, showcasing the paintings, drawings, and watercolours that she produced in France, as well as the works she created upon her return to the West Coast of Canada in 1912. The text of her 1930 speech "Fresh Seeing," in which Carr sought to explain Modern art to her baffled public, is included alongside an essay by writer and critic Robin Laurence. Also featured are essays by Carr scholar Kathryn Bridge, who examines the artist's travels and studies with post-Impressionist artists in Paris, Crécy-en-Brie, St. Efflam, and Concarneau; collector Michael Polay, who details the inclusion of two of Carr's paintings in the famed Salon d'Automne alongside pieces by Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and many other internationally renowned artists; and Audain Art Museum curator Kiriko Watanabe, who recounts Carr's return to the West Coast and the paintings that resulted from her ambitious sketching expeditions to the Upper Skeena River, Haida Gwaii, and Alert Bay in the summer of 1912.
Kiriko Watanabe is the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator at the Audain Art Museum, where she has taken on Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing as her first major curatorial project. Originally from Japan, she is interested in the visual and design culture of British Columbia, with a special focus on mid-century and West Coast B.C. art. She is the curator and co-author of Selwyn Pullan: Photographing Mid-Century West Coast Modernism, and the recipient of an Award of Excellence from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Dr. Kathryn Bridge is the emerita Curator of History and Art at the Royal British Columbia Museum, and an adjunct faculty member in the History department at the University of Victoria. During her long and varied career at the RBCM, she curated several popular exhibitions about Emily Carr and the history of B.C., wrote and edited three books on Carr, and contributed the introductory essay to Carr's short-story collection Klee Wyck.
Robin Laurence is an independent writer, critic, and curator based in Vancouver. She is the visual arts critic for The Georgia Straight, and has been a contributing editor for both Canadian Art and Border Crossings magazines. She has published essays about art and artists in more than fifty books and exhibition catalogues, and has produced numerous reviews and feature articles for local, national, and international publications.
Dr. Michael Polay is a medical doctor whose affinity for Emily Carr's work led him to collect several of her paintings. As he learned more about Carr, he began researching her paintings in his collection and eventually compiled a lifetime exhibition history of Carr's work - including catalogues, lists, and reviews of each show - which gained him a special insight into her career and an exceptional knowledge of her body of work.