When you were younger did you ever dress up your pets or small animals in clothes? Do you revel in doing things differently? Do you ever feel like you just don’t quite fit in with everyone else?
BC’s most famous artist and author, Emily Carr, did and felt all these things. Her accomplishments are many, but Emily began her life in Victoria, British Columbia as a curious, smart, nature-loving girl.
As a girl, Emily ventured outdoors, explored ponds and hills and made friends with animals. She sometimes embarrassed her prim-and-proper sisters by exploring in her best clothes, asking a peculiar question or clothing a Sea Star and other creatures in doll’s dresses!
Throughout her life, wherever she lived, animals accompanied her: parrots, chipmunks, a raccoon, white rats, cats and dogs – plenty of dogs. But, by far, her most enduring pet – and the one most fixed in the public imagination – was her Javanese monkey, Woo.
In her book Growing Pains, Emily Carr recalls refusing to ride sidesaddle like most women of her time.
“My sister owned a beautiful mare which she permitted me to ride. On the mare, astride as I had ridden in the Cariboo, my sheep-dog following, I went into the woods. No woman had ever ridden cross-saddle before in Victoria! Victoria was shocked! My family sighed. Carrs had always conformed…. Too bad, instead of England gentling me into an English Miss with nice ways I was more me than ever, just pure me.”
The Royal BC Museum holds Emily Carr’s literary works, unpublished manuscripts, letters, journals, diaries, sketchbooks, many, many photos and more than 1100 individual works of finished art. Many photographs of Emily and her artwork can be viewed online. Read about Carr’s monkey Woo. Watch videos about her work and life.
What would you like to know about Emily Carr?