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Terrible Totem, Koskimo

Terrible Totem, Koskimo, 1930
watercolour and graphite on paper
36.9 cm x 26.8 cm
British Columbia Archives

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I worked all afternoon, first on “Koskemo Village, ”x.1., and then on x.2., “Strangled by Growth,” which is also Koskemo (the cat village). It is D’Sonoqua on the housepost up in the burnt part, strangled round by undergrowth. I want the pole vague and the tangle of growth strenuous. I want the ferocious, strangled lonesomeness of that place, creepy, nervy, forsaken, dank, dirty, dilapidated, the rank smell of nettles and rotting wood, the lush greens of the rank sea grass and the overgrown bushes, and the great dense forest behind full unseen things and great silence, and on the sea the sun beating down, and on the sand, everywhere, circling me, that army of cats, purring and rubbing, following my every footstep. That was some place! There was a power behind it all, and stark reality.

Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr 1966

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)



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. 6)

1987 - 1988 The Expressionist Landscape: North American Modernist Painting, 1920-1947 organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art travelling to the IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, the Akron Art Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery (cat. 24)

1990 Emily Carr National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

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. 98)

LOCATION: Vancouver Island / Gulf Islands map