Thursday, July 7, 2016

Emily's paintings at the Audain Art Museum in Whistler

We spent an afternoon in the new Audain Art Museum in Whistler and what an amazing place it is! Michael Audain is a collector of British Columbia art (among art from other places) and he has built a beautiful space to share it with the public in Whistler. The land was donated to the cause by the Municipality of Whistler and construction began three years ago. The museum opened earlier this year.

First, the building on a floodplain, is really stunning. Only one tree was removed during construction and it's very unassuming from the outside, almost hiding among the smallish trees that surround it. You enter by a walkway above the ground and it's designed so water from the roof is reused. Inside it's all light and natural wood and is a perfect place to showcase the art.

There's an amazing collection of West Coast ceremonial masks beautifully displayed. Most of them have actually been used in dances and they've been gifted to Audain by Native peoples who know that he will honour and protect them. Some of the masks had articulated jaws, eyes, and ears that could be moved by the dancer. They were incredibly expressive of human faces or animals. A real treat.

I loved looking at the masks but I was more entranced by the two dozen Emily Carr paintings that I had never seen before. Living in B.C., I've seen a lot of her work, from her early water colours to the later deep woods oil paintings.... like these ones.

The pole painting is a faithful recreation of a village she visited and the forest scene is a more emotional rendering of the deep rainforest.

But what I really loved were some paintings done in oil on paper, often with thinned down paints that had an impressionistic sketch quality to them.

One of Beacon Hill Park is so evocative of what I love about our shore at Dallas Road. It still looks like that on a windy day.

Plus I loved this one of a tree in a clearing....

And this detailed painting of war canoes in Alert Bay, a community that I have visited on the northern part of Vancouver Island. (It doesn't look at all like this now.)

There was also a collection of paintings of E.J. Hughes, a more contemporary painter who recorded coastal B.C. for many years. His paintings are like snapshots from my childhood when I visited so many gulf island wharves like this one.

Visiting the Audain museum was a wonderful time lapse. And if you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it.  Whistler gets a lot of international visitors so I think it's a great place to have a museum showcasing British Columbia art.


  1. Beautiful work!

    I'm drawn to Emily Carr's work. I don't know how many of hers are owned by the National Gallery, but I was there on Canada Day and took in a couple of them.

  2. What a wonderful post today.
    Emily Carr's paintings are very interesting,

    cheers, parsnip


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