Victoria author Grant Hayter-Menzies is releasing new book called ‘Woo: the monkey who inspired Emily Carr.’ (File submitted/Grant Hayter-Menzies)

Victoria author pens biography on Emily Carr’s monkey, Woo

The artist famously had many animals including the macaque monkey

Victoria’s own Emily Carr garnered international fame for her paintings and poetry, but also grew infamous for her unconventional sidekicks.

Carr is often portrayed as an eccentric artist known for her love of animals, with stories of her walking around downtown Victoria with a pram full of dogs, cats, birds and of course, the Javanese macaque, Woo.

While Carr loved all her animals, Woo held a special place in her heart. This caused Victoria author Grant Hayter-Menzies to dig a little deeper into the monkey’s story in an upcoming biography: Woo, The Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr.

ALSO READ: Artist’s depiction of Emily Carr goes cross country

“There’s a lot that happened to Emily starting in 1923, when she brought Woo into her home, and into the 1930s when the trajectory of her life as an artist began going up and up, and I feel like Woo played a role in this,” Hayter-Menzies said. “There was this kind of ‘Woo effect.’”

Carr grew up in a moderately wealthy Victorian family, but stuck out in contrast with her sisters who Hayter-Menzies said were “into missionary work and very tight corsets.” Carr instead was an artist who would camp on her own – or with her animals – in the woods to paint.

“Emily herself as a little girl was like the monkey of the Carr family… she loved wildness in every facet,” Hayter-Menzies said. “In a way, Woo was her doppelganger, she was the little Emily figure that could do anything she damn-well pleased.”

ALSO READ: Saanich plans to approve improvements to old Emily Carr library

Hayter-Menzies spent years researching Carr and Woo, digging through old archives and books and interviewing experts like Emily Carr House curator Jan Ross.

“It’s obvious in the ways that Emily wrote about Woo that she freed her,” Hayter-Menzies said.

“In the final portrait of Woo that Emily painted, which she was still working on when she died in March 1945… it’s Woo sitting on a branch without her dress, looking like a wild monkey. It was almost like Emily was finally able to let her go and accept the wildness that was in herself. “

Before its official release, Hayter-Menzies book has been selected by CBC Books for its spring 2019 non-fiction list. The book is set to launch on March 2, the anniversary of Carr’s death in 1945.

There will be an official launch party at Massey Books in Vancouver on March 7, not far from the site of the former Stanley Park Zoo where Woo was later shipped to and died shortly after Carr’s death.

On March 12 there will be a launch party at Bolen Books.

For more information you can visit grantmenzies.wixsite.com

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

artistBooks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Celebrate Victoria Pride Week

The Victoria Pride Society has organized some stop-notch virtual entertainment, including the Virtual Pride Festival on July 5.

Children’s author honours Oak Bay sisters murdered by father

Proceeds from children’s book go towards child abuse prevention in Greater Victoria

Sidney Museum and Archives reopens brick by brick with Lego exhibit

Museum joins other reopenings including Sidney library, Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Vancouver Island Symphony, Kerplunks up for Western Canadian Music Awards

Winners to be announced via live stream on Sept. 25

10th annual Nanaimo Fringe Festival to be held online due to COVID-19

Festival will feature six productions by local, regional and international artists

Nanaimo’s Kismet Theatre Academy closes after eight years due to COVID-19

Bonnie Catterson founded the school in 2012 as ‘a place for the oddballs’

Home dance videos to be part of this year’s Infringing Dance Festival

Crimson Coast Dance Society seeking ‘backyard dance’ submissions to compile into video

Ucluelet loses one of town’s oldest art galleries

Mark Penney Gallery shuts down due, in part, to Hwy. 4 closures and COVID-19 pandemic.

Vancouver Island drummers pay belated tribute to Neil Peart of Rush

Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer died of cancer at age 67 in January

Yukon poet kjmunro headlines Port Alberni’s virtual Words on Fire

Monthly spoken word event continues virtually at Char’s Landing

Most Read