Emily Carr (1871 – 1945) is recognized as one of Canada’s foremost artists and authors. Art studies led her to San Francisco, England and France, but she was claustrophobic in big cities and longed for the wilds of her west coast home, Victoria. On major sketching trips in 1912 and 1928 to isolated coastal villages Emily bravely battled privation, mosquitoes and rain, determined to produce a body of work that would direct and sustain her creative needs for years. Carr was unconventional, unapologetic, and memorable. She smoked, rode astride a horse, lived with pet rats, parrots, cats, dogs, and a monkey. Stories of her eccentric lifestyle live on, but her powerful artistic and literary interpretations of the coastal landscapes of her home, British Columbia, remain her lasting legacy.
The Royal BC Museum’s Emily Carr collection includes over 100 impressive paintings and a treasure trove of 1000 sketches and handicrafts—diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, letters and manuscripts—making up the world’s largest collection of Emily Carr materials, one which spans her entire career. Included as well are a wealth of contextual pieces: photographs, research files and sound recordings of interviews and reminiscences. The Royal BC Museum is the proud steward of this exceptional collection, which offers a uniquely holistic view of Carr’s life and work.