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Carr, Emily.

Photography by Michael Breuer. Toronto, Oxford University Press, cl984. unpaged, paper, $14.95, ISBN 0-19-540464-5. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Phyllis James

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

When a sensitive writer researches the unpublished journals and letters of the late Emily Carr then combines her efforts with an expert, perceptive photographer we have a book that will bring repeated pleasure to responsive readers.

Kerry Mason Dodd first compiled a detailed biography then selected pertinent excerpts from Emily Carr's journals and letters. The photographer, Michael Breuer set out to discover the west coast scenery so dear to the great painter. In fact, he attempted to set up his camera where Emily Carr had sat to paint the rain forest and Indian villages.

As a result, with every page illustrated, the reader can respond to the condensed writings that express Emily Carr's thoughts. We learn of her extensive knowledge of Indian Art and her feeling for ancient relics of the natives' past. We learn of her powers of observation as she witnessed the growth of the rain forest and the effect upon the artist. Her writings are as intense as her art, full of powerful imagery, wit, and originality.

We are given brief glimpses of the artist's turbulent life by following the dates in the text. One of the last is from a letter to her friend and advisor, Ira Dilworth, when she wrote in 1943 shortly before her death, "Oh life. I feel so like a beaten up old drift log driven too high ashore by a mighty wave for any wave to reach it again." Breuer's photograph of a beached log in the evening light illustrates the thought. For those who merely look at pictures, the north and west coast photographs of forest, totem poles, and villages will bring hours of satisfaction.

I think Emily Carr would have approved of this tribute to her life's work. Recommended.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
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