I’m looking at exhibitions to write about in the next edition of British Archaeology, and was reminded of the wonderful collection of Emily Carr works at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south-east London. It closes soon, on March 15. If you’re nearby and haven’t seen it, I really recommend it.
Here’s what I wrote for the current British Archaeology:
As well as the paintings and drawings, there’s a very select group of indigenous Pacific coast artefacts from the likes of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and the British Museum (though to be honest, the one little thing that bothered me about the show, was that there didn’t seem to be much of a connect between these objects and Emily Carr, which more could have been made of – but in the circumstances perhaps that’s being churlish).
I first saw some of her work when I was in British Columbia (for a time I had a house among the trees on Hornby Island). It struck me then as odd that she wasn’t better known in Britain, not least because she studied here.
Another Canadian artist who really should be better known here is Jack Shadbolt (1909–98). He was born in England, grew up in Victoria BC, and was a great fan of Carr. His wife Doris Shadbolt (née Meisel, 1918–2003) was director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and wrote about Emily Carr. Jack Shadbolt’s works draw on the same mix of indigenous art and culture as Carr’s, and Pacific coast landscape, but he expressed the local loss and the human tragedy more visibly and powerfully. Some of his stuff is really quite shocking, and beautiful at the same time. There’s even a touch about him of another artist I greatly admire, Ralph Steadman.