Sunlight in the Shadows: The Landscape of Emily Carr


74 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-19-540464-5





Edited by Kerry Mason Dodd
Photos by Michael Breuer
Reviewed by Patricia Vervoort

Patricia Vervoort is an assistant professor of art history at Lakehead


Although the title suggests that this is a study of Emily Carr’s landscape paintings, it is instead a book of photographs of the landscape that inspired Emily Carr. Each magnificent photograph by Michael Breuer is placed with a selection from the artist’s unpublished writings. This publication responds to the frequent comment, “Now that I’ve come to British Columbia, I understand her paintings so much better.” The writings and the five-page introduction, which gives a biographical sketch of Emily Carr, are by Kerry Mason Dodd, manager of the Emily Carr Gallery of the Provincial Archives of British Columbia.

Michael Breuer visited the sites painted by Emily Carr and captured the atmosphere and beauty of each. To accompany a comment from Carr’s journal dated 16 January 1936 (“‘organized turmoil of growth’ that’s what those thick undergrowth woods are and yet there is room for all”), Breuer photographed this lush dampness in #28, captioned “Rainforest, Vancouver Island.” “A stray sunbeam” is from Carr’s notebook of 1913 and is captured appropriately by #30 and #31. Each photo is startlingly clear and is enhanced by the artist’s specific writings.

Most of the photographs emphasize the landscape, one records the family home (#66), and another, the artist’s grave (#72). Only one painting by Carr is photographed: the Indian Eagles she painted on the attic ceiling of her “House of All Sorts” (#17). This publication is an admirable addition to the publications on Emily Carr and provides an armchair visit to her visual sources of inspiration.


Carr, Emily, “Sunlight in the Shadows: The Landscape of Emily Carr,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,