A crazy woman

Wednesday, 27 June 2007 2 responses

June 26, 2007

One day, when I was four years old, I was riding in the back
seat of my grandfather's 1936 Hupmobile. Passing through Beacon
Hill Park in Victoria BC, I spied a lone woman on a stool with
a big easel. "Look, Papa, an artist," I said. My grandfather--I
can still see the expression on his face--looked over his
shoulder and confided, "Her name is Emily Carr. Some people
think she's crazy."

Within a few years of that occasion, the crazy woman had passed
away and then there were only her paintings and writings.
Widely recognized toward the end of her life, Emily was a
unique product of a Victorian upbringing, a West Coast vision
and the influence of modern mentors. Emily is one of my
favorites--if not always for her paintings, for her words and
her spirit. Her remarkable books started appearing in 1941. In
them we get a glimpse of the anxieties and joys of a creative
pioneer--an original thinker with an attitude.

"When you really think about your hand you begin to realize its
connection, to sense the hum of your own being passing through
it. When we look at a piece of the universe we should feel the
same," she says. Emily felt the hum and found a way to respond.
Painting in the "marvelous modern manner," she wondered if she
might "ever feel the burst of birth-joy, that knowing that the
indescribable, joyous thing that has wooed and won me has
passed through my life." Emily was a spiritual being who
responded to the great forests and the native cultures of our
coast. She was a quirky loner, who hoisted the chairs of her
studio so guests would not have a place to linger. For those
she "found interesting," she might just lower one down.

Too young to test her hospitality, I nevertheless ingested her
writing. Her words got me going. "There is something bigger
than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood,
the vastness, the wildness." This wildness took both of us away
in boat and camper, on voyages of discovery and countless
sorties of unfinished business. "Sincerity itself is religion,"
she told me, and I believed.

It was with Emily that I first glimpsed the brotherhood and
sisterhood of artists. I was pleasantly surprised that her
concerns were mine: "You always feel when you look it straight
in the eye that you could have put more into it, could have let
yourself go and dug harder."

Best regards,


PS: "Over and over one must ask oneself the question, 'What do
I want to express? What is my ideal, what is my objective?
What? Why? Why? What?'" (Emily Carr, 1871--1945)

Esoterica: Over the years I've placed my bottom on the same
spot where Emily tarried and painted--as if I might catch some
of her spirit. In dark times and in bright, it's been difficult
not to have her around. "Let the movement be slow and savour of
solidity at the base and rise quivering to the tree tops and to
the sky, always rising to meet it joyously and tremulously. The
spirit must be perpetually moving through, carrying on and
inducing a thirst for more and a desire to rise." I attended
her grave at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria. Her inauspicious
stone reads, "Artist and Author, Lover of Nature." What more
could anyone want?

Current clickback: If you would like to see selected,
illustrated responses to the last letter, "Breaking the curse,"
as well as a gallery of Emily Carr paintings, please click here.

Love your planet: A Premium Listing in the Painter's Keys
Directory is the most effective thing an artist can do to be
tastefully and respectably noticed. This listing--really a mini
web page--costs $100 per year--and we do all the set-up. You
can find out how well it might work for you here.

(c) Copyright 2007 Robert Genn. If you wish to copy this
material to other publications or mail lists, please ask for
permission here.
Thanks for your friendship.

I subscribe to Twice-Weekly Letters written by Robert Genn at The Painter's Keys.
He has kindly allowed me to post his most recent letter here at Poeartica.

2 responses: to “ A crazy woman so far...

  • Anonymous 1.7.07

    Hi Kim;

    When I was around 10, I read Lord Byron's 'The Prisoner of Chillon'. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever read and I was soooo hooked, thereafter.

    What or who fostered your initial appreciation of art and poetry?


  • Kim 1.7.07

    hi Anna
    My Dad named me after Rudyard Kiplings, Kim, the jungle boy....and my Mum and Dad were really into the arts...initially my whole life was ballet (16yrs)and then I became pretty ill and I suppose my creativity went into art and poetry....I have always kept journals especially when my life directions changed so many times....my Dad wrote a lot of poems and painted.....and my Mum still phones me every day to give me her daily literary quote and to tell me that she has taped the latest art program on the ovation channel for me.....
    I think the first poem that I read was Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn
    and the lines
    'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
    really inspired me...
    I bet you were an avid reader...haha...Lord Byron at 10....pretty impressive.....I think I was reading the Lord of the Rings when I was that age....