To view the funeral service for Christopher Pratt from Wesley United Church on Friday, June 10, 2022 at 10:30 a.m., please follow the link below:
John Christopher Maxwell Pratt, was born in St. John’s on December 9, 1935. Predeceased by infant son David (1975), father John Kerr Pratt (1980) and Emily Christina (Dawe) Pratt (2001), best friend and sometime wife Mary West Pratt (2018). Leaving to mourn, brother Philip (Kitty); children: John (Tracy), Anne (Dean), Barbara, Ned (Andrée); grandchildren: Katherine (Adam), Elizabeth (Scott), Christopher (Sarita), Keir (Kate), Christina (Kyle), Alexander (Jessica), Jacob (Sarah), Claire (Dan), Phillip (Laura), Isabel, and Nathan; great-grandchildren: Thomas, Henry and Natalie; and his most cherished and loyal assistant, Brenda Kielley.
Lauded from an early age as one of Canada’s finest painters and printmakers, he was faithful to his art all of his life. Until the day he could no longer get there under his own steam, he headed to his studio every morning without fail. In addition to his work, he had two great loves: his family and his province. He was proud to agree when asked to design a new, modern flag for Newfoundland and Labrador; he knew the dangers. While he seldom admitted it, he was always delighted to see his design flying above private properties across the province, or held triumphantly aloft by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians around the world. He was never bothered by what politicians thought, but he was flattered and proud when the people of Newfoundland and Labrador embraced the flag as their own.
He was not religious in the traditional sense of the word; while he could, and did, quote the bible and spent time thinking about those ancient observations, his real spiritual attachment was to Newfoundland and Labrador. He traveled the island extensively on personal pilgrimages, often revisiting specific locations. Some, like the Argentia Naval Base and the southeast Placentia river, had particular importance in his life. Others were resonant with symbolic, artistic and political reactions to the world. He had a particular attachment to Bay Roberts where he’d spent childhood summers with his cousins Peter Dawe, Janet (Dawe) Gardiner and Sonia (Dawe) Ryan.
He taught us that anything that was worth doing, was worth doing well. It was true for him in his work and obvious to anyone who ever raced against him in one of his prized sailboats. He had a keen sense of the absurd and was equally annoyed and amused by the ridiculous in life. He was unexpectedly humble, always more impressed by others than he was by himself.
He was a Companion of the Order of Canada (1983) and recipient of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador (2018). He wore both pins regularly, alongside either his Mount Allison Class of ‘57 or Prince of Wales College (PWC) Class of ‘52 badges. Despite his many accomplishments as an artist, he was probably more proud of his brief time as a member of the victorious PWC men’s hockey team (‘52). The Class of ‘52 was never far from his heart; a reunion photo hangs in his dining room, second only to a portrait of our mother, Mary West Pratt.
For many years beginning in the late 1970’s he pursued excellence in another forum – sailboat racing. Although he did not at first intend to race his sailboats, he quickly grew to love the competition, the opportunity to refine and perfect his skills, and the camaraderie of fellow sailors. As with everything else, he sought perfection on the water. He made major contributions to the sport of sailing in Newfoundland and was made a lifetime member of the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club in 2017, an award for which he was justifiably proud.
His list of professional accomplishments is long and illustrious. His first solo show, in 1965, was organized by Memorial University Art Gallery. In 1982 his work appeared in an exhibition at Canada House in London, England, and was subsequently shown in galleries in Paris, Brussels, and Dublin. By 1985, when he was only 50 years old, he had produced sufficient significant work to justify a major retrospective of paintings, prints and drawings at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
He was known for the power of his serigraph prints, which he hand-produced in his studio at Salmonier. Major exhibitions of his prints were staged at the American Associated Artist Gallery in New York in 1986, and at the Canadian Embassy in Washington in 1992, and in 2003 at the National Gallery of Canada.
In 2005 the National Gallery of Canada organized a major retrospective of his work, which included 65 paintings spanning four decades.
His last major show was a print retrospective organized by the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto. His work has also appeared in many group shows across Canada and around the world.
His work is featured in a great many major public, corporate and private collections including the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the Canada Council Art Bank, Mt. Allison University, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
To each of you who came to visit, called, and wrote to say hello and wish him well in the past year – thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We felt your kindness.
We extend deep thanks to his caregivers Cathy Reid, Jean Smith, Samantha Didham, Tracey Williams, and Jennifer Lewis; Nurse Practitioner Cheryl Goulding; Dr Khalid Jat; Nurse Jaclyn O’Reilly; Julie Luffman, Meghan Dunphy and the staff at Eastern Health St Mary’s and Holyrood Clinics. We needed you, and you were always there.
We also wish to thank the many, many people who have contacted us in one way or another over the past days to share their memories of our father, and to express their own sense of loss. We are touched and humbled by your thoughtfulness. In so saying we wish to acknowledge, in particular, the people of St. Mary’s Bay who have been our friends and neighbours for all these years.
He enriched our lives in countless ways. He was a patient and effective teacher, an insightful counselor, generous to a fault and deeply proud of his family, all those who went before and all those who follow. He was strong and steady, loving and kind.
He taught us how to look, and how to see. We will miss him every day.
The family will receive visitors at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road, on Tuesday, June 7 from 5-9 p.m. and Wednesday, June 8 from 10am-12pm, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A celebration of the life of Christopher Pratt will be held at Wesley United Church, 101 Patrick Street, St. John’s, on Friday, June 10 at 10:30 a.m. The funeral service will be livestreamed with the link available above.
In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully asks that you consider making a donation in his memory to The Alzheimer’s Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Gathering Place, or a charity of your choice.
Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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Wesley United Church, 101 Patrick Street
Private interment to follow in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.