Studio Sunday: Mary Pratt

A photo of the late Mary Pratt at work in her studio


New Brunswick-born artist Mary Pratt was a figurative painter who was best known for her incredibly detailed, photo-realistic paintings of household objects and still-life scenes. Throughout her artistic career, Pratt’s work tended to focus on domestic subject matter; frequently, her paintings featured food and kitchen implements, and familiar household objects.


Pratt’s studio looks like a warm, if slightly cramped space, although the artist herself seems totally engrossed in her work, so much so that the décor of the space probably wasn’t a big concern. The large plywood sheet on the wall behind Pratt’s easel is an interesting touch – I wonder if the wall was originally this way, just unfinished, or if Pratt herself installed the plywood as a way of protecting the wall behind against flying paint?


It looks as though the artist is using a heater of some sort to help dry a portion of her painting. This is an interesting approach, since it seems to suggest that the artist worked with a singular focus, chipping away at a single painted image until she could say for certain that it was finished.

The rest of the studio is well-equipped – there’s a few tables, each holding some supplies, and what looks like a counter with a sink and drawers to the far end of the room. I even see a landline telephone on the table in front of Pratt!


Pratt continues to be a celebrated Canadian artist, with her work even appearing on Canadian stamps from 2007. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and was awarded nine honorary degrees from different universities and colleges throughout her career. In 1997, Pratt was awarded the Molson Prize, a sizeable art grant from the Canada Council. Pratt passed away in August of 2018, at the age of 83.

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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