Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mary Pratt: brutal and bloody, domestic and warm

We are a family that gives each other books for Christmas. And for birthdays, Valentine's Day and anniversaries. Or for no reason or no special day.

We have way too many books already and it's awfully hard to think about parting with them, something everyone finds themselves doing at some point. Our problem is, we have no trashy books. We have the classics and books by or about people we know. We have art and history and architecture and fiction and biography. We have poetry and photographs and, of course, cookbooks.

One day I wasn't feeling well and I set out to count all the books in the house to take my mind off my illness. I was approaching 2,000 when I got distracted. I think I had to go lie down.

Even with all these books, Dan goes to the library at least once a week and comes home with a stack of books. They all get read.

One of our books from this past Christmas is the Goose Lane edition of Mary Pratt's paintings, published in conjunction with her recent touring exhibition. It's called Mary Pratt.

We went to see her exhibition when it was here in Halifax and although there are many more pictures in this book than we took with our own camera, for some reason we feel a stronger connection when we took the pictures ourselves.

I shared some of the pictures on Facebook last year. Here they are, with my comments. (I haven't reminded you for awhile to click on the photos. For these ones especially, it's nice to see them big.)

Her paintings are beyond real. They're often brutal, often bloody. If it's not blood, it's something that makes you think of blood.

She often paints food, during preparation, before or after meal-time, sometimes raw and just killed. Or maybe in a beautiful bowl or sitting on lace. Often, the food is on foil-wrap or plastic wrap or waxed paper. (The model you can see through the doorway is serious and hauntingly human.)

This is a picture of a wedding dress which was made by a friend of the bride and which hangs on the bride's bedroom door. The marriage is very happy. It reminded me of my wedding dress, also made by a friend — my friend, Joanne Lamey — also hanging on my bedroom door! (My dress is a little nicer but has a little in common with this dress.)

A large cod, in all its gutted glory, delivered to the pristine garden of her home. She liked the contrast. On the right, a butchered moose.

Pictures from the genteel home where she was raised in Fredericton.

It may be that her exhibition is still showing somewhere in the country. You could look it up. One way or another, I do recommend this beautiful book — even though I've been told that my jelly looks prettier than hers. What do you think?

I think she'd be amused at the thought.

Mary Pratt, sitting with her paintings.

1 comment:

  1. I saw the exhibit in Otttawa, and remember her at Mt A. Do you? She and Christopher were a new couple then.