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Who is considered British Columbia's most famous artist?

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Located along the harbourfront on the grounds of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, is a statue dedicated to one of Canada's best-known artists. This commemorative statue was developed and dedicated "to honour Victoria's best-known citizen, eminent artist and acclaimed writer, Emily Carr" (13 December 1871 - 2 March 1945) who struggled for recognition throughout her life. The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Victoria commissioned the statue and after establishing the 'Emily Carr Statue Fund' in May 2004, it succeeded in raising over $400,000. Created by sculptor Edmonton-born Barbara Paterson (6 May 1935 - ), Emily Carr is seated outdoors, an open sketchbook on her lap, with her Javanese monkey 'Woo' on her shoulder and standing faithfully at her side, her dog 'Billie'. The 1.25 lifesize statue of 'Our Emily' invites passersby to pat Woo or Billie and to visit her childhood home 'Emily Carr House' in the neighbourhood of James Bay. It is fitting that the statue was unveiled on 10 October 2010 during the city's major celebration for Women's History Month in Canada.

Adjacent to the statue is a commemorative plaque in the form of a book that aptly describes her history: "Victoria-born Emily Carr is British Columbia's most famous artist. Her art and writings are recognized across Canada. Emily grew up with a passion for art and a love of nature, especially animals. After high school she studied art in San Francisco. Later she travelled to England and France to refine her style. A trip to the native village of Ucluelet in 1899 opened the world of Indigenous culture that inspired her to paint images of the vanishing totem poles in their natural setting. / An art exhibit in Eastern Canada in 1927 brought her to the attention of a wider public. Carr's later paintings drew inspiration from the deep forest itself, painted in vivid strokes of colour. After 1939, when ill health curtailed her painting, she turned to writing, winning the Governor General's award in 1941 for Klee Wych. She went on to publish more books and win new recognition as a writer. / Emily Carr celebrated the British Columbia landscape in an original and vigorous way, from the "turmoil of growth" to the "space and glory of the sky." A person of deep spirituality, she reflected upon nature and humanity. She is a kindred spirit for all times. / "To have been permitted to give pleasure by writing and painting the plain simple things of my life fills me with the deepest gratitude." "

On this day, 13 December 2021, we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Emily Carr and mark more than eleven years since the dedication of the monument erected in her honour in Victoria, British Columbia.

André M. Levesque

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