CarrTotemForest Emily Carr, Totem Forest, 1930.

Emily Carr


Chosen by: Mary Jewell, Gallery Volunteer


“A few years ago, while exploring in the mountains near Vancouver, I suddenly became intensely aware of the remarkable old-growth douglas fir surrounding me – the texture of the bark, the colour, the way that weather had formed patterns that reflected their determined survival. This experience inspired me to develop a process and create art that celebrates and documents these natural monuments before they disappear. And I became an advocate for preserving our forests.

This painting by Carr impresses me with its powerful message of change, painted early in the twentieth century when historical First Nations cultures and old-growth forests were succumbing to development. It shows a world Carr feared might soon be lost.

Emily Carr wanted to preserve the spiritual value of this landscape, just as I do, and she continued to work at her art despite struggles and hardship as a single working woman in Victorian society. Her courage, determination and resourcefulness to achieve what she did inspire me.”


Emily Carr, Totem Forest, 1930. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Gift of the Emily Carr Trust.

Mary Jewell has been a volunteer in the Gallery library since 2009. She is a multidisciplinary artist and forest advocate.



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