To find out how things actually look is a revelation. I am interested in examining my subject, to really get into it. For my subjects I go to the things of the world not the ideas. Naturally, what I see goes through the net of my experience; the image is the result... And I just love to paint for me it is just such a joy.
Excerpt from artist statement in Discovery exhibition publication, organized by the Discovery Consortium, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1997.
Mary Pratt was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1935. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from Mount Allison University in 1961. She moved to the province in 1963 with her Newfoundland-born husband Christopher.
At the beginning of her career, the Pratts' four young children became an important focus in her life. Her first solo exhibition was organized by Memorial University Art Gallery in 1967, after her children had reached school age. Her participation in the 1975 show Some Canadian Women Artists at the National Gallery of Canada, was a crucial point in her career. Her first nationally toured solo exhibition was organized by the London Regional Art Gallery in 1981.
Pratt is one of Canada's most respected realist painters. She is known for her perceptive depiction of light and the themes of domestic life, which recur in her work.
In 1995, Tom Smart of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery curated a highly successful national touring retrospective of her art, entitling both the show and the accompanying publication, The Substance of Light.
Pratt has been an active member of the Canadian arts community, serving on The Canada Council for the Arts and receiving several honorary degrees from Canadian universities such as Dalhousie University, the University of Toronto and St. Thomas University. In 1996, she was named Companion of the Order of Canada and in 1997, she was awarded the prestigious Molson Prize.
Mary Pratt's art is part of private and public collections including that of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador's Permanent Collection; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Canada Council Art Bank, and the University of New Brunswick.
She has served on the board of directors of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador and has been an active catalyst for the establishment of The Rooms - a museum, art gallery, and archives complex scheduled to open in St. John's in 2004