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Cumshewa, 1912
watercolour and graphite on paper mounted on cardboard
52.0 cm x 75.5 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Purchased 1953

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Not far from the house sat a great wooden raven mounted on a rather long pole; his wings were flattened to his sides. A few feet from him struck up empty pole. His mate had sat there but she had rotted away long ago, leaving him moss-grown, dilapidated and alone to watch dead Indian bones for the two great birds had been set, one on either side of the doorway of a big house that had been full of dead Indians who had died during a smallpox epidemic.
Bursting growth had hidden house and bones long ago. Rain turned the dust into mud; these strong young trees were richer perhaps for that Indian dust. They grew up round the dilapidated old raven sheltering him from the tearing winds now that he was old and rotting because the rain seeped through the moss that grew upon his back and in the hollows of his eye-sockets. The Cumshewa totem poles were dark and colourless, the wood toneless from pouring rain.

Klee Wyck 1941

Put in a good day’s painting below the skin. Got the Cumshewa big bird well disposed on canvas. The great bird is on a post in tangled growth, a distant mountain below and a lowering, heavy sky and one pine tree. I want to bring great loneliness to this canvas and haunting broodiness, quiet and powerful. “Strangled by Growth” is giving much trouble.

Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr 1966

PERIOD / STYLE: Modernism and Late Totems (1927-1932)



1945 - 1946 Emily Carr: Her Paintings and Sketches collaboration between the Art Gallery of Toronto (Art Gallery of Ontario), and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ottawa travelling to the Art Association of Montreal (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (cat. 33)

1949 Memorial Exhibition Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (cat. 3)

1951 Emily Carr Memorial Galleries opening exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery (cat. 11)

1958 Paintings by Emily Carr in One Hundred Years of B.C. Art Vancouver Art Gallery (cat. 288)

1971 Emily Carr: a centennial exhibition celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of her birth organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery travelling to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (cat. 62)

1979 Emily Carr: The Mature Years – Les Années de Maturité organized by Canada House, London, England travelling to Centre Culturel Canadien/Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France (cat. 5)

1990 Emily Carr National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

1998 - 1999 Emily Carr: Art & Process organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery travelling to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Kamloops Art Gallery

2001 - 2002 Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg travelling to the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Women in Art, Washington and the Vancouver Art Gallery

2006 - 2008 Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon collaboration between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa travelling to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Glenbow Museum, Calgary (cat. 72)

LOCATION: Haida Gwaii map