Sunday, September 30, 2012

Scorned as Timber Beloved of the Sky

This photo taken near our home by Peter Moore reminds me of the  work of the great Canadian artist, Emily Carr.

“Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky” is one of my favourite oil paintings by her. This little old lady ‘on the edge of nowhere’ as she called herself, started her life painting people, first nations villages and totems. She ended up expressing on canvas the great forests and vast skies of her beloved British Columbia where she was born in 1871.

‘Scorned as Timber’ was painted after a visit to a great forest in 1935.  The canvas is dominated by a tall spindly pine tree. It is one of the badly shaped trees rejected by the woodcutter in favour of the pencil straight trunks that had long since been turned into telephone poles, houses, churches. This useless tree is surrounded by trees stumps, that Carr referred to as ‘screamers’.  These ‘screamers’ to her were the cry of the tree’s heart before it gave that sway and dreadful groan of falling.

This lone pine sends its branches up out of the forest. It reaches towards the heavens with a corona of bright light radiating from it and filling the canvas like a great symbol of hope.

In many ways this ‘scorned one’ is a portrait of Carr herself. Like the lone tree she made her way as an unconventional artist, struggling against adverse criticism. She always strove for what was above with no one to support or encourage her. Her unfailing belief in her own art meant that by the time she came to paint the tree with its bright circle of hope, she was widely recognised as one of Canada’s most significant artists.

 Search her out.

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