Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why was Emily Carr Not Invited to Join the Group of Seven?

I've been reading Joan Murray's 'The Best of the Group of Seven'. Joan is well grounded in her knowledge of the group. She has met and talked to Arthur Lismer and she has interviewed many family members and friends of the group. Joan is the Director of the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery of Oshawa, On.

Joan challenged me from the get-go with her first paragraph:

Nearly Sixty years ago Emily Carr met the Group of Seven. Her reaction was two fold.On her meeting with Arthur Lismer, shortly after meeting F.H. Varley and A.Y.Jackson, she wrote in her journal. "I wonder if these men feel as I do that there is a common chord between us. "No", she replied to herself. "I don't believe they feel so toward a woman."
But - could there be another side to the story? AY Jackson writes in his autobiography:
"I too, had the weight to feel her displeasure. I spent a great deal of time once persuading a collector to buy one of her canvases. He eventually bought it, and all I got from Emily in the way of thanks was a letter complaining about having had to wait so long."

Was Emily unable to crack group membership because of her sex? There is good reason to believe that. But on the other hand, did the group members distance themselves from Emily because of her abrasive personality? That may also be the case. I guess we will never know the story since all the players are long gone.

Source 1:
The Best of the Group of Seven. Joan Murray. pg.7 1-8.
References:The Best of the Group of Seven. Joan Murray,Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton Ab. c.1984.
isbn 0-88830-265-7

A Painter's Country. Autobiography of AY Jackson. Clarke Irwin co. 1963. Toronto, On.

1 comment:

  1. In reading Emily's journals I was struck again and again by the tone of that "abrasive" side she carried with her. It was a defense mechanism possibly? She certainly suffered for want of inclusion and acceptance regarding her art but she also seemed to push away attempts to include her. As you say,
    "we will never know...since all the players are long gone."


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