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In September, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia joined FIN Atlantic International Film Festival in celebrating Mary Pratt. This year’s lineup featured a selection of art films including It Was All So Wonderful: The Everyday Magic of Mary Pratt, by award-winning filmmaker Kenneth J. Harvey. This film reconstructs Mary Pratt’s life from archival footage dating back to the 1950s, tracking her development over time, while capturing her gentle humour, strength, beauty of spirit, and fascination with objects in the home.

As part of the celebration, the piece Artifacts on Astroturf will be on view in the Spotlight space in the main lobby.

Mary Pratt was one of Canada’s most distinguished artists, celebrated for her work with familiar subject matter and domestic still life. The deceptive simplicity of these scenes belies a nuanced approach to everyday life. Her works were skillfully executed with sophisticated use of tone, brushstroke, angle and choice of subject that continue to leave viewers of Pratt’s images with a sense of wonder and sometimes even unease.

Mary Pratt was instrumental in the development of a strong visual arts scene in Canada. She was one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most significant figures, as both an arts advocate and an artist whose aesthetic has contributed to defining the culture of the Atlantic Provinces. Her influence extends to national and international levels.  

Pratt has said of her own work, “my only strength is finding something where most people would find nothing.” This modest statement from Mary Pratt, by Sandra Gwyn and Gerta Moray reveals the layers of beauty and difficulty she finds enfolded within the mundane. She ennobled the everyday and elevated it to the near sacred. Her works are about herself, the objects and people that surrounded her, and speak to a poignant experience we all can understand. People find something of themselves in her art. As a result, Mary Pratt has become iconic as one of Canada’s most beloved realist painters, and arguably one of its most illustrious artists.



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