British Columbia: Western Coast, Center of Attention

Canadian artists have long been represented in London territory due to their bold approach to certain techniques and because they have proven that creativity is something that freely flows within Canada. A few years ago Dulwich Picture Gallery exhibited 123 paintings and oil sketches by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, a Canadian artist and his group, with the exhibition Painting Canada. This exhibition was the second most successful for the South London gallery in its almost 200-year history. The exhibition presented classic Canadian art with works borrowed from prestigious private sources in the North American country.

More recent years have continued to push the importance of Canadian art in London, centering on British Columbian art. Last year, Canada House exhibited the work of 50 award-winning artists from British Columbia to showcase their work with different materials such as glass, plastics, textiles and wood. Emily Carr, often compared to Van Gogh himself, was exhibited for the first time in the UK at the Dulwich Picture Gallery with the exhibition From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia. Almost unknown outside of her home country, Emily Carr’s exhibition depicted a trajectory from darkness to light with dark, intense paintings showcasing forest scenes that are almost claustrophobic to amazingly bright, unique and fresh representations of the sky, beach and landscapes.

Perhaps the latest exhibition of a Canadian artist was that of Agnes Martin at Tate Modern. Her paintings were evocative, and they touched on the emotional power of art. She was one of the few females to stand out within the many famous males that surrounded abstraction mid-century. Since her death in 2004 she has often been left in the darkened and dusty corners of galleries, but is finding her way back into the light.