Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing opens at Royal BC Museum with bonus artworks

October 21, 2020
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VICTORIA, BC—Emily Carr: Fresh Seeing - French Modernism and the West Coast opened today at the Royal BC Museum—the last stop on the exhibition’s cross-Canada tour—with the exclusive addition of paintings and archival materials from the museum’s permanent collection.

This illuminating feature exhibition organized by the Audain Art Museum (AAM) in Whistler, BC is curated by Kiriko Watanabe (AAM Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator) and Dr. Kathryn Bridge (Royal BC Museum Curator Emerita), and captures the moment Carr revolutionized her painting style—and emerged as a Canadian modernist—after returning from a 16-month trip to France in 1911. The exhibition closes Jan. 24, 2021.

The exhibition takes visitors on a journey from Victoria to France and back to British Columbia, as Carr seeks to immerse herself in the richly layered world of modernist art. Her paintings from this period are displayed chronologically, growing in size, scope, and colour, to develop in just a few years into the iconic style for which Carr is now internationally renowned. Says co-curator Bridge: “I honestly believe that without her time in France, Emily Carr would never have become the great artist we know today.”

“The Royal BC Museum proudly stewards the world’s largest collection of Emily Carr art and archival materials,” says Royal BC Museum CEO Prof. Jack Lohman. “We are delighted to be able to augment this remarkable exhibition with important additions from our vast collection, including the signature painting, T’aanuu Llnagaay—a vivid example of Haida artistry captured by Carr in her newly expanded painting style.”

Carr originally titled the painting Tanoo, Q.C.I.; the revised title reflects current geographic designations. The two other paintings are Gitsegukla, and Kispiox, featuring scenes Carr sketched while on the lands of the Gitxsan people.

“It’s a truly unique opportunity to be able to see this exhibition here at the Royal BC Museum,” says Lou-ann Neel, Acting Head of Indigenous Collections and Repatriation. “After seeing Carr’s paintings, visitors can head upstairs to the First Peoples Gallery to experience first-hand the Indigenous art that inspired her paintings, such as one of the house poles featured in T’aanuu Llnagaay. This is a chance to understand what Indigenous artists were doing in the same era, and to experience the profound energy of these original monumental works.”

Fresh Seeing includes 67 artworks by Carr and her compatriots in France, which chart Carr’s transformation into an artist of the Canadian avant-garde. A small additional exhibition curated from the Royal BC Museum’s own collections will run concurrently near the feature exhibition: Everyday Emily Carr features 22 examples of Carr’s portraiture ranging from sketches to small watercolours, and even one of Carr’s hooked rugs.

The intimate paintings and archival materials offer visitors a deeper and more complete picture of Carr as a person, as well as an artist.

The Royal BC Museum will offer complementary online programming for all ages during the exhibition, including a curator-led “exhibition highlights” video. Bookmark rbcm.ca/Emily for up-to-date information.

As part of ongoing COVID-19 health and hygiene protocols, all visitors will require timed tickets, which are available for advance purchase online now. Tickets: $22.95 for adults; $14.95 for students and seniors; $13.95 for youth.

Fresh Seeing is presented in Victoria, BC with the support of Major Sponsor Heffel Fine Art Auction House, Sponsor Black & MacDonald, financial assistance from the Government of Canada through the Museum Assistance Program, and Exclusive Transportation Partner PACART.

About the Royal BC Museum

The Royal BC Museum explores the province’s human history and natural history, advances new knowledge and understanding of BC, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection. The museum and archives celebrate culture and history, telling the stories of BC in ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire. Located in Victoria on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations), we are a hub of community connections in BC–onsite, offsite and online–taking pride in our collective histories.

About the Audain Art Museum

Established in 2016, the Audain Art Museum was founded via a major philanthropic gift of Michael Audain and Yoshiko Karasawa. The institution’s permanent collection is focused on the art of British Columbia, including an outstanding holding of historic First Nations masks, a comprehensive selection of paintings by Emily Carr and a brilliant range of works by Vancouver’s photo-conceptualists. The Museum hosts two temporary exhibitions per year that feature artists and collections of national as well as international significance.

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