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

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

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

West Shore RCMP seized a stolen fish finder and drugs after searching a Colwood home Jan. 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search of Colwood home reveals stolen fish finder, drug trafficking evidence

West Shore RCMP suspect a 46-year-old woman is responsible

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Most Read