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

Just Posted

Duncan’s Big Stick lights up red to signal COVID’s devastation of the arts

“COVID-19 has been truly devastating to the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre”

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

From Nanoose Bay to the bookshelf, Howard the Gnome now a children’s book

Vancouver Island author explores Howard’s move down-Island

Nanaimo country singer releases new music video

‘Adrenaline’ is the second single from Joel Lee’s upcoming debut EP

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Art+Earth Festival gets growing this weekend

Find out what events are in-person and what’s happening online

Film about missing and murdered indigenous women makes Nanaimo debut

A mother and daughter search for answers in Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s ‘Rustic Oracle’

Nanaimo’s Harbour City Photography Club goes virtual to adapt to COVID-19

Club’s exhibitions, meetings and presentations are now occurring online

Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre returns to the stage in Port Theatre debut

Theatre group presents ‘2 Across,’ described as a ‘middle-aged romantic comedy’

Authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Three Nanaimo-area writers up for CBC non-fiction prize

Sheila Brooke, Vicki McLeod and Rachael Preston make 35-person longlist

Resident Alien returns to Ladysmith for filming in early October

New SyFy series back after spring filming interrupted by COVID-19

Most Read