Famed artist Emily Carr resurrected in print

Emily Carr As I Knew Her makes come back after decades

The 1954 title Emily Carr as I Knew Her

The 1954 title Emily Carr as I Knew Her

An old book on artist Emily Carr hits shelves and galleries across the region, inspired by one Oak Bay artist’s readings.

Robert Amos is a Carr fan and over the years he’s read many a book by the famed artist (who summered in Oak Bay) and about her. He’s written a foreword or two for them and even created covers, including TouchWood Editions’ reprinting of Emily Carr As I Knew Her by Carol Pearson.

He came across a tattered old copy years ago and read it aloud to his art group at Mount St. Mary Hospital.

“Once they get painting I read out loud to them, I find it extends the period of painting. If they’re chatting they’re not painting,” he said with a chuckle.

“I’ve read all of Emily Carr’s books, probably most of them twice over. It’s the very best character study of Emily Carr that exists.”

While working with TouchWood on Amazing Story of Emily Carr, for which he also wrote the intro and created a cover, Amos snapped up the opportunity to present Pearson’s Emily Carr As I Knew Her, originally published in 1954.

“I wanted to honour what little Carol and Ms. Carr had going,” Amos said. “They got it right away that this really was a beautiful thing.”

The book is an intimate and heartwarming biography of Carr, perhaps Canada’s most famous artist.

In 1916 Carr wasn’t famous, but she was cherished by seven-year-old Pearson. The two spent hours a day together; they painted together at the water’s edge and Pearson helped care for the dogs, birds, monkey and other animals Carr kept as pets. Carr affectionately nicknamed Pearson “Baboo,” who in turn called the artist “Mom.”

Pearson wrote the biography, based on more than two decades of friendship, shortly after Carr’s death.

“It was a special relationship and as it turns out Carol is a lovely writer as well,” Amos said. “The whole point is to honour the excellent work Carol did writing this book.”

Pearson was a horsewoman and animal trainer, a skill she learned from Carr, and she lived in Ontario until her death. Her memories of Carr were originally published in 1954 by Clarke, Irwin & Company.