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Mary Pratt, David Blackwood pieces up for grabs

Rob Cowley, president of Consignor Canadian Fine Art of Toronto (right), and John Perlin (left), chair emeritus of the Fluvarium Foundation, pose with a mixed media print, “Bonfire,” done in 1997 by Mary Pratt.
Rob Cowley, president of Consignor Canadian Fine Art of Toronto (right), and John Perlin (left), chair emeritus of the Fluvarium Foundation, pose with a mixed media print, “Bonfire,” done in 1997 by Mary Pratt. - Sam McNeish

Consignor Canadian Fine Art getting lots of traction on ‘Bonfire’ by Mary Pratt, offered for sale by Fluvarium

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Interest has been high this week for artwork that originated in this province.

A work that has been generating the highest interest is from the late Mary Pratt. Her work, “Bonfire,” has been in The Fluvarium in St. John’s for a number of years.

The board of directors there decided to offer it for auction to help generate some cash for the organization, which saw its name sponsor withdraw its support in 2018.
“We have been previewing a lot of art since the first of May and the many visitors we have had, the Mary Pratt is drawing lots of interest,’’ Rob Cowley, president of Consignor Canadian Fine Art of Toronto, said Thursday.
“Right now we have ‘Bonfire’ valued at $8,000 to $12,000. I think we can expect a selling price in that range, as that is where the scale is for Mary Pratt.’’
As the auctioneer, Cowley said he is the last to know for sure what people will pay for items like this one, but he hopes to garner on the high end of the scale, so the sale will help maintain The Fluvarium.

Originally, the piece hung above the fireplace at The Fluvarium in St. John’s, but spent more time boxed up rather than being enjoyed. The decision to have the artwork appraised came after the environmental education centre’s main sponsor ended its relationship, resulting in the loss of funding for many programs.
In an effort to raise some much-needed funding, the painting will be offered at Consignor’s Spring Live Auction of Important Canadian Art on May 28 at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto.

“Bonfire” is a pastel completed in 1997 by Pratt, who died Aug. 14, 2018 at the age of 83.
“Her still life work is what is drawing the most attention right now because of her passing,” Cowley said when he was in St. John’s in March.
Works on paper sell for less than other works, and the prices tend to vary due to the rarity of the piece and the scene, he said, adding that it can go both ways.
“If the work is rare, not a trout or kitchen scene or others, or if a client is just looking to own a Mary Pratt, this one may be what they are looking for,’’ he said.

“The well-known scenes from the ’80s do well, but others from the ’60s are sought after, too.’’

Pratt was one of Canada’s great realist painters. She was born in Fredericton, N.B., on March 15, 1935.

She refined her skills during studies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., graduating in 1961. She studied with artist Alex Colville, who influenced the development of her style and her subsequent move toward realism.
Pratt often said memories of light from her childhood influenced her work.

In addition to the Mary Pratt piece, the auction has two additional items on offer from David Blackwood, originals from a private collection in Newfoundland.

Those paintings from Blackmore include “Cape Spear” 61.6 x 92.1 centimetres, completed in 1983, and “Gram Glover’s Dream,” a 1969 print.
“They have drawn a lot of interest as well,’’ Cowley said.
“The prints are valued anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000.”
Blackwood created grande visual narratives reflecting both the landscape and culture of the province, with an emphasis on combining the history, legends and myths of settlement and the developing culture of Newfoundland.
He is best known for his colour etchings with aquatint.
Blackwood was awarded a Government of Newfoundland Centennial scholarship to study at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and went on to become art master at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ont.
In 1969, Blackwood became the first artist-in-residence at Erindale College, University of Toronto at Mississauga.


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