Indian Church by Emily Carr

Emily Carr Indian Church 1929

Emily Carr Indian Church 1929

Mar is short for Mary Anne, or so my Mom tells me so. Mar was born in 1935 and became my mother in 1961. She’s the most amazing soul, always seeking things that others have overlooked. Recognizing value in art with an eye for style and a natural tendency to discover treasures. Mar finds art and second hand goods that improve or enhance the houses of her friends and family. A constant source of new used furniture, equipment and art, or the person to discover appliance or furniture for someone who needs something for home improvement. If there’s a “Restore or Value Village” she knows where but it’s her art collection that’s impressive containing a mix of original painting and sketches, plus several prints from Canadian artists including Emily Carr.

Mar keeps an entire collection of Emily Carr books and reviews of her large collection. Emily Carr has always been Mar’s favorite and reminds us of the story of Emily Carr’s life, before she became a famous artist. Recently Mar had to replace one of her favorite prints, of the painting that made Emily Carr famous; The Indian Church

Emily Carr – Wikipedia

The Indian Church is a 1929 painting by Canadian artist Emily Carr. Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris bought the painting to showcase it in his dining room, and called it Carr’s best work. In 1930, the work was shown in the Fifth Annual Exhibition of Canadian Art organised by the National Gallery of Canada. In 1938, the painting was chosen for an exhibition titled A Century of Canadian Art, at the Tate Gallery. The exhibition was described by Vincent Massey as “a most representative showing of Canadian painting and sculpture, including all schools and all periods.” It is considered a “transitional” painting because it reflects the transition of Carr’s artistic work from purely depicting Native Art to shifting her focus toward the land.

In her autobiography, Carr wrote that she “felt the subject deeply”. She painted it at Friendly Cove, near a lighthouse. When Carr saw her painting in Harris’s home, she exclaimed: “The house must have bewitched this thing! It was better than I had thought.” However she could not look at it, because she could not accept praise from other people, and felt embarrassed when others complimented her about her work. The painting is one of Carr’s most reproduced works, and was eventually donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Charles Band.


In the spring of 1929, Carr travelled by train through Vancouver Island to Port Alberni from where she went by steamer to Nootka Island. There she sketched, among other subjects, a white church that was in the area. When she returned to Victoria, she started painting crosses around the church, creating the impression of a graveyard. In the painting, she omitted adding any other buildings near the church, as was the case with the actual church, to emphasise the isolation of the church within its green environment. She also added an element of danger in the form of wavy dark green undergrowth erupting in front of the church.


  1. First Nations Art in Canada - Silicon Palms - September 7, 2019

    […] who knows me, knows that I like the work of Emily Carr and occasionally visit her collection in a permanent exhibit of the Vancouver Art Gallery. It […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.