Tom Thomson and Emily Carr in the U.K.!

The Royal High School in Bath, England

The Royal High School, Bath, England

Last December, David gave a talk at the Royal High School in Bath, England. It was entitled: “Tom Thomson, Emily Carr…and the birth of Canadian painting.”

The timing for this talk was appropriate, given that the exhibition “From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia” is currently running in London at the Dulwich Picture Gallery (world’s first purpose-built public art gallery!). A couple of years ago, “Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the group of Seven” also showed at the Dulwich. These exhibitions have attracted substantial attention to Tom, Emily and the other great masters of the Canadian landscape.

but for 3000 miles they could have been contemporaries

Young Tom and Emily!

David’s exposé emphasized the pictorial, complemented by a more personal look at the artists and their impact. Tom Thomson was a Canadian first: home grown, a woodsman and a bit atypical. Pan-Canadian art sensitivities were later cemented when Emily Carr’s powerful vision of the west connected with the Ontario-centric Group of Seven. Photos of Tom fishing, his paintbox, a smattering of anecdotes about each and a reading of one of Emily’s poems rounded out a memorable morning.

a difficult choice: which of Tom and Emily's paintings to include?

Difficult choices: which of Tom and Emily’s paintings to include!

The audience, a senior art class, comprised intelligent, talented and enthusiastic students. We had hoped that this image-rich presentation would garner a healthy level of interest in Canadian art. We needn’t have worried. This bright group of accomplished students, by way of a fascinating volley of relevant questions, enriched their art knowledge, with expert coaching from their teacher.

One of the greatest joys in sharing knowledge is witnessing inspiration, which so often leads to empowerment. Another vital aspect resides in the opportunity to explore the non-technical and often invisible magic of the creators of this beauty, without which these treasures might never have been born. On that note, a poem, by Emily:

Dear Mother Earth!
I think I have always
specially belonged to you.
I have loved from babyhood
to roll upon you,
to lie with my face pressed
right down onto you,
in my sorrows.
I love the look of you
and the smell of you.
When I die, I should like
to be in you unconfined,
The petals of flowers
against my flesh and
you covering me up.


On 21 February, join us for a day inspired by Emily’s legacy: you can check out this and the five other sessions in our winter workshop series on the courses page of David’s website.

4 thoughts on “Tom Thomson and Emily Carr in the U.K.!

  1. Great post , France and David! I enjoyed reading about your experience bringing Canadian art to the U.K. students! Well done!

  2. France, What a fabulous article! I wish I had been there to hear to David’s talk. What a lucky group. I’m glad it was a well-appreciated one. Emily Carr’s poem is beautiful… ultimately such a wonderful way to look upon death if we are returning to mother earth, our home. Best to you and David. 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle! It was a real privilege. Emily Carr’s poems can strike a deep cord- have you read some of her other poetry? I think you’d enjoy them. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. Bye for now!

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