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Expression of sympathy

Artist, friend, supporter: mourning the passing of Dr. Christopher Pratt

Campus and Community

By Dr. Vianne Timmons

The country has lost a pillar in the art community, and we at Memorial University have lost a dear friend and supporter.

Dr. Christopher Pratt sits with his arms and legs crossed on a chair with artwork and a gray and white cat around him.
Dr. Christopher Pratt in his Salmonier Line studio with his cat, Ophelia.
Photo: Canadian Press

Dr. Christopher Pratt passed away on June 5. He was 86.

Deep Memorial connections

His impact on our university, our province and our country is incalculable. On behalf of the entire university community, I extend sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Dr. Pratt’s involvement with Memorial dates back to the 1960s when he served as the first curator of the university’s art collection and taught extension courses at the newly opened Memorial University Art Gallery. The first solo exhibition of his work took place at Memorial University Art Gallery in 1965.

A serigraph/lithograph of a man, back on, approaching a wooden shed with ocean and ice in the background, at night.
Christmas Eve at 12 O’Clock, by Dr. Christopher Pratt
Photo: Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Collection

He was a substantial contributor to Memorial, particularly through works of art. The university art collection, the largest and oldest collection of fine art in the province, includes more of his prints and paintings than any other artist in the collection.

In 1972 Memorial University conferred an honorary doctor of letters degree upon Dr. Pratt.

He was a frequent visiting artist at Memorial’s School of Fine Arts, often teaching and working in the school’s print studio initiated by former professor, Kent Jones. He worked closely with George Maslov, Grenfell print technician and renowned master printmaker, who etched and printed plates for some of Dr. Pratt’s most poignant prints.

Special exhibit at Grenfell Campus

Dr. Pratt’s work and influence were lauded internationally through his work as an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and as a member of the Canadian Society of Graphic Art. In 1973 Dr. Pratt was named an officer of the Order of Canada; in 1983 he became a companion of the Order. In 2018 he was named a recipient of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A serigraph/lithograph of a shoreline, water and ice.
Ice, by Dr. Christopher Pratt
Photo: Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Collection

His body of work is indicative of his love for this province, and many of his pieces represent iconic Newfoundland and Labrador imagery. Dr. Pratt designed the Newfoundland and Labrador flag. I encourage you to honour and reflect on Dr. Pratt’s tremendous contribution to our country. The Memorial University Art Gallery, located at Grenfell Campus, is planning a special exhibit of Dr. Pratt’s works; more information will be provided closer to the date.

In recognition of his passing, Memorial’s flags will be displayed at half-mast on Friday, June 10, from 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Given his connection to Grenfell Campus, flags at that location are currently flying at half-mast.

A celebration of Dr. Pratt’s life will be held on June 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Church, 101 Patrick St., in St. John’s. More information is available online.

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