MARY PRATT, FAMED CANADIAN PAINTER, DEAD AT 83

Mary Pratt, a painter who turned the ordinary objects of her kitchen, garden and daily life into extraordinary works of beauty and colour, has died in St. John's.

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Mary Pratt has spent much of her career painting the objects of her everyday life. This photograph was taken by her son, Ned Pratt. (Collection of The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery/Ned Pratt)

Mary Pratt, a painter who turned the ordinary objects of her kitchen, garden and daily life into extraordinary works of beauty and colour, has died in St. John’s.

Pratt, who had been receiving palliative care at her St. John’s home, died on Tuesday evening. She was 83.

Pratt painted items she saw around her, transforming them. A jar of currant jelly glowed from within. The aluminum foil holding a meal of fish seemed to have eerie qualities. The flowers she picked outside became beacons of strength.

  • A 1999 oil painting entitled Jelly Shelf, by Mary Pratt (from a photograph by Ned Pratt) in the collection of the Equinox Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia. (Mary Pratt)

To Pratt, the stuff of everyday was fascinating, and she brought a distinct style of realism to her canvases.

“I wouldn’t do it if I hadn’t loved the subject,” Pratt told CBC News in 2013, when a career retrospective of more than 60 works opened in St. John’s. Two years later, she was the subject of a solo retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

“I wouldn’t have ever bothered to paint the thing if I didn’t fall in love with it.”

In a statement Wednesday, her four children described their mother as “a master of light and colour” who taught them to find art around them.

“We sat at her supper table, we filleted and ate the rich Atlantic salmon that our father caught from the river outside our door, savoured the warm brown loaves of bread, and lusted after the swirling cream topped trifles,” her children — John, Anne, Barbara and Ned — said in a statement.

“When we were no longer sharing her home, we understood her life through her work … She painted what she saw, as she so often explained, and what she saw were not mere surfaces, but images with meaning that ran fathoms deep.”

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