Emily Carr, M.O. Hammond Collection, National Gallery of Canada Archives

Ruggedly individualistic, resourceful, adventuresome, indomitable: these character traits convey at least part of the complex personality of Canada's most remarkable West Coast painter, Emily Carr. After the death of both parents when she she was a teenager, Carr left Victoria in 1890 for art studies in San Francisco, returning after three years. In 1898, before further studies in England, she made the first of several trips into the British Columbia wilderness. Initially Carr concentrated on figure and portrait studies, but eventually she turned her attention almost exclusively to the monumental native carvings.

After 1910, the paintings are brilliantly coloured and brushed - evidence of her stay in France and her adoption of up-to-date European artistic modes. By 1913, in order to satisfy her financial needs, she built and managed a small rooming house. It drained her energies, and the next fifteen years proved unfruitful. In 1927, Carr was invited to participate in an exhibition of Northwest Coast First Nations art at the National Gallery of Canada.

Travelling east, Carr met with the members of the Group of Seven. Harris' support and encouragement rekindled her urge to paint. Carr painted and wrote passionately over the next decade and half until her death. Her images of the West Coast, quiver with an unheralded expressive force, sometimes menacing, sometimes exhilarating. She had at last discovered her true creative self when she was nearly sixty.1

See the video on how her time in Paris influenced Emily Carr