Mar 19, 09
Read in February, 2009
This book was recommended to me as I am an incorrigable tree-hugger/lover and the story is of Emily Carr (a real Canadian artist from Vancouver Island)who painted her native forests and the Indian habitats of the region. The book starts out in 1906 where Emily Carr has traveled to the west coast of Vancouver Island to seek out an isolated Nootka village to paint the Indian way of life. Throughout the book Emily strikes out into remote regions of the Canadian coast to paint and record native habitat.
Emily was a real feminist of her day, never marrying, but letting her passion for painting propell her into one adventure after another. She was especially taken by the significance of totem poles and tried to paint as many of them as she could, no matter how remote their locations, before they were destroyed or removed.
Most moving for me were some of her descriptions of what she saw and the raw emotions they evoked in her. Here is a quote:
"As she began to paint, she saw rhythm in the tree's repeated forms, in the upward reach of the trunk furrows, its bare hanging withes reaching down, its laden boughs tangled with those of other trees. In one sweep she united the branches into a mantle of cedars. Her swinging arm became a swoop of greenery, boughs from adjacent trees breathing into each other, supporting each other, all one...the more she entered into the life of the tree, as one breath moving, in and out like the tide, one heart-drum beating, the more alive her work became. Oh, the joy of it!"
Vreeland captivated me with her interpretation of this fine artist's life, breathed life into Emily through her passionate prose.