Mary Pratt honoured with National Art Gallery solo exhibit

Esteemed still life artist Mary Pratt was present for Thursday's solo show opening at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa, which was co-organized with The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery.
Still life artist visits Ottawa as National Gallery exhibits her work. 2:35

The decades-long career of Mary Pratt, one of the country's finest still life artists, is being celebrated by the National Gallery of Canada. 

Mary Pratt has spent much of her career painting the objects of everyday life. (Collection of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery/Ned Pratt)

​Mary Pratt: This Little Painting officially opened in Ottawa on Thursday. 

It's part of the gallery's Masterpiece in Focus exhibition series. 

The show marks the first time that the gallery has showcased Pratt's career, and has also set a precedent of Pratt being the first female artist from Atlantic Canada to be honoured with a solo exhibition. 

Pratt was in attendance for the gallery's opening on Thursday, and said she was surprised that her work is being featured there.

"I never expected to be shown at the National [Art] Gallery, so I am more than delighted," she said in an interview with CBC News. 

"Well, it is certainly not avant-garde, it is not, in a sense, of its time. It doesn't look very adventurous ... and most art critics find it dead boring."

Famed for taking ordinary things and turning them into lush, evocative paintings, Pratt remains modest about her work. 

"Well, I just don't think anything's ordinary," said Pratt. 

"Everything is worth looking at and discussing."

Her inspiration was close to home

Pratt, who turned 80 in March, said she has been painting since she was a little girl in Fredericton, N.B.

Soon after she moved to Salmonier, a small village in eastern Newfoundland, in the 1960s with her then-artist husband, Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt said she found inspiration around her.

I never expected to be shown at the National [Art] Gallery, so I am more than delighted.- Mary Pratt 

"I had been painting all my life, so what was I going to do, stop just because there was a baby in a crib?"

"The world comes to me through my senses, and so if I get a gut reaction from something, I figure it's a painting," she said.

Pratt's 1972 painting, Red Currant Jelly, has been called a "Canadian masterpiece" by the National Gallery of Canada. It has been in the gallery's collection for more than two decades.

The exhibit runs until January 4, 2016.

With files from Sandra Abma