|Salmon on Saran, 1974|
Mary Pratt once said she didn't think of anything as "ordinary". "I think everything is complex and worthy of conjecture and worthy of a look, worthy of a close look", she said in an interview with the National Gallery of Canada in 2015.
Well-known in her own country, less known internationally, artist Mary Pratt was born in New Brunswick, and made her life in Newfoundland. She died earlier this month, and glowing tributes have been published widely in the Canadian media.
|Fish Head in Steel Sink, 1983|
Pratt is known for finding the beauty (and sometimes the horror) in the everyday. In her earlier years, she was best known as the wife of Canadian painter Christopher Pratt, whom she met in art school and with whom she had four children. As a student at Mount Alison University, she was told by her instructor, Lawren Harris Jr., that there could only be one artist in a family, and she was not it. When she traveled to the Glasgow School of Art with her husband, Mary was denied entry on the grounds that she was pregnant, but Christopher was admitted.
|Eggs in an Egg Crate, 1975|
Pratt was honoured by a number of solo shows in Canada, beginning in 1967 and most recently at the National Gallery in 2015-16. She was made a Companion of the Order of Canada and was named as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Pratt is best known for her hyper-realist oil paintings of still life; in later years she also chose to paint portraits of women. In both, there is often a suggestion of wrapping, or containment.
|Cold Cream, 1983|
I have loved her work since I first discovered it many years ago, and saw the 2015 solo show at the National Gallery. As Lisa Moore wrote so eloquently in Canadian Art,
|Jelly Shelf, 1999|