Like all art, the creation of an exhibit is beauty surrounded seemingly effortlessly by work. Last week, I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Dulwich Picture Gallery where an exhibit of the famous Canadian artist Emily Carr’s paintings will be displayed starting this Saturday, November 1st.
Never before has a British gallery or museum dedicated a solo show to the colorful post impressionist; this fault has deprived us of a collection of beautiful pieces loaded with the history and imagery of the Canadian people and land. Dulwich Picture Gallery will, wonderfully, have on display a total of twenty-five as well as certain examples of her notebooks and sketches as well as a small collection aboriginal objects providing insight into not just the talent, but the process of this wonderful artist.
This past Wednesday, the Gallery unwrapped one of Carr’s most beautiful and well-known paintings Tanoo, Queen Charlotee Islands. I have never before viewed a painting in quite this manner, off the wall, part of a work in progress. It has always been the expectant rush to the right room or gallery and suddenly a work is there; now, I wait while they remove the plastic wrapped canvas and frame, and slowly unwrap it, the colors becoming less and less muted, the image distorting and then, suddenly, clarifying. Tanoo radiates, incredibly beautiful, vibrant and moving, the air and ground alive, rooted to each other by three totems.
The rest of the to-be exhibit sprawled around, brown packing paper lining the walls that will soon be covered in canvas and frames, waiting for completion. There’s pattern visible here, in these bones, pattern that will soon blend seamlessly so only the art is noticeable, not the work behind it. The exhibitions of the Dulwich Picture Gallery are never anything but excellently curated, the small space taken to full advantage; “From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia” promises to be no different. In a way, this Carr’s British debut, and the exhibition will educate as well as display, leaving viewers with not only an appreciation for the Canadian painter, but also a greater sense of understanding of her stylistic trajectory. As the website promises, “the exhibition will trace a dramatic trajectory from darkness to light. Visitors will first encounter Carr’s brooding, often claustrophobic forest scenes and the show will culminate in a display of Carr’s later euphoric sky paintings, rhythmic light-filled beach scenes, and clear-cut landscapes.” Tanoo is directly in the center of the exhibit, the focal point. It would draw attention on its own, yet so does all of Carr’s art. It is high time England took notice of this wonderful artist; the Dulwich Picture Gallery has just given the opportunity to appreciate.
Emily Carr’s work will be on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery from November 1st 2013 to March 8th 2014. For more information, visit www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk