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Picturing the Giants

The Changing Landscapes of Emily Carr

June 10, 2017 - January 6, 2019 Michelle Jacques | Pollard Gallery

This exhibition examines Emily Carr’s work through the dual lenses of the artist’s increasing interest in environmental issues and the status of ancient forests of the region in present times.

Growth had repaired all the damage and hidden the scars. There were second-growth trees, lusty and fine, tall-standing, bracken and sword ferns, sallal, rose and blackberry vines, useless trees that nobody cuts, trees ill-shaped and twisty that stood at the foot of those mighty arrow-straight monarchs long since chewed by steel teeth in the might mills, chewed into utility, nailed into houses, churches, telephone poles, all the “woodsyness” extracted, nothing remaining but wood. (Emily Carr, “A Tabernacle in the Wood, 1935,” Hundreds and Thousands)

Emily Carr’s output reveals an artist whose style and content continually evolved. Philosophically, however, at the root of her entire oeuvre, is an unwavering love of nature and the landscapes that surrounded her. Picturing the Giants uses Carr’s interest in environmental issues as a lens through which to examine her work. In the journal entry above, she expresses the contradiction she sees between the spiritual and utilitarian value of trees; she also describes an impression that cutting and regrowth could be well-managed. Picturing the Giants features works that celebrate the untouched majesty of her beloved trees, as well as ones in which she depicts human intervention into and injury to the landscape. It also includes works by other artists—past and present—from the region who grapple with environmental issues and concerns. At the foundation of the exhibition is the question: “What would Carr think of today’s treatment of our forests?”

Experience the work of Emily Carr with our new app and activity book “Activating Emily” available for free download on iTunes.

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