A Personal Calligraphy
Winner of the Newfoundland and Labrador Writers' Association Prize for Non-Fiction
Mary Pratt is famous throughout Canada for her luminous paintings and prints. Her 1995 exhibition, The Art of Mary Pratt: The Substance of Light, drew record-breaking crowds on its tour of Canada. It also resulted in an unprecedented amount of press coverage on the biographical content of her work. The accompanying book by Tom Smart sold more than 6,000 copies and made almost every "best book of the year" list in Canada.
Mary Pratt: A Personal Calligraphy features Mary's own writings, drawn and adapted from her personal journals, the essays that she has written for numerous publications ranging from The Globe and Mail to The Glass Gazette, and the lectures that she has given at many public events. For the first time, Mary has written her own book in her own words, rather than rely on others to write about her. Treating both public and private issues, she writes of her childhood in Fredericton — her connection to her family, life in Salmonier as a young mother, her decision to pursue her own career as an artist, and her complicated relationship with her husband, Christopher. She writes about public issues — the death of Joey Smallwood, the 50th anniversary of Newfoundland's entry into Confederation, and the cod fishery. She writes about the images that interest her and influence her art, and the process of painting. Like her paintings, Pratt's writing packs a sucker punch. At first it appears to be a paean to the pleasures of house and home, until the more disturbing aspects subtly reveal themselves. Ironing shirts become an erotic act; a memory of visiting the local market with her grandmother conjures images of violence; dead chickens, meticulously plucked, and carcasses of cattle, meticulously flayed, suggest rituals of sacrifice.
In Spring of 2001, Mary Pratt was awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Writers' Association prize for Non-fiction for A Personal Calligraphy.
Mary Pratt's paintings have been exhibited in Canada's most influential galleries and reproduced in magazines. Mary Frances West Pratt was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1935. She attended Mount Allison University and graduated with a bachelor of fine arts. In 1957, she married fellow student Christopher Pratt, and moved to Glasgow, Scotland. In 1959 they moved to Newfoundland, where Mary taught painting at Memorial University. During her career, Mary Pratt has steadily built a national recognition for her photo realist paintings and for her active role in cultural affairs.