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Emily Carr in British Columbia

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Nicola Homer reviews From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, on view through March 8, 2015.

Homer writes: "Although Carr was one of the most advanced artists in Canada in 1913, she could not sell a single work. So her paintings languished for more than a decade in the lodging house that she opened to provide a new stream of revenue in 1913… That could have been the end of her story. But instead it was just the beginning. In 1927, the director of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa learned of Carr’s existence and selected her to be the principal exhibitor of a major show about the art of British Columbia. In Ottawa, she encountered the Group of Seven, whose member Lawren Harris, said: 'You are one of us.' Their collaboration opened a new chapter for Carr: she began to paint dramatic landscapes such as Indian Church (1929), with trees towering like totem poles at Friendly Cove, where Captain Cook landed in 1778. This friendship encouraged Carr to discover her own spirituality in the forest and the sea, reflecting the belief system of “theosophy” – the idea of searching for the divine in the everyday."

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