Mary Pratt

Photo: Collection of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery/Ned Pratt

Photo: Collection of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery/Ned Pratt


The renowned Canadian painter, Mary Prattonce swore off painting to take up sewing. Fortunately, thanks to some very good advice from her then-husband, the painter Christopher Pratt, she realized that stitchery wasn't her thing and she traded her needle for a paintbrush.

Jelly Shelf, 1999
(Equinox Gallery, Vancouver)
Even more fortunately, she ignored the advice of  Lawren Harris, her teacher, who told her that there could only be one painter in a household - and at the Pratts, it wouldn't be her. 

In the mid-1960's she began painting things she saw in her own home: fish fillets on a cardboard carton; jelly jars infused with sunlight; the aftermath of a family dinner; or a fishhead in the sink.  

Each painting is a study of the play of light on everyday objects. 

Christmas Fire, 1981
(Lavalin Collection)
This spring a retrospective exhibition of Mary Pratt's photo-realist oil paintings opens at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery in St John's, Newfoundland, and it will tour across Canada. 

The show is accompanied by a new book titled simply, Mary Pratt which includes examples of her work, and essays about it.

Pratt has received numerous honorary doctorates and awards, two of her paintings are featured on Canadian stamps. In 1997 she was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. 

Mary Pratt spoke with Michael from St. John's.

This interview originally aired in April.

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