Top News

“Bonfire” sale generated funding for Fluvarium

The Fluvarium in St. John’s will live to fight many more days. At least according to John Perlin, chairman emeritus of the cash-strapped non-profit organization. The sale of Mary Pratt’s “Bonfire” at auction in Toronto and the publicity it created helped to raise more than $125,000 and gave Perlin a list of names for the board of directors to pursue for more. SAM MCNEISH/THE TELEGRAM
The Fluvarium in St. John’s will live to fight many more days. At least according to John Perlin, chairman emeritus of the cash-strapped non-profit organization. The sale of Mary Pratt’s “Bonfire” at auction in Toronto and the publicity it created helped to raise more than $125,000 and gave Perlin a list of names for the board of directors to pursue for more. SAM MCNEISH/THE TELEGRAM - Sam McNeish

The late Mary Pratt started the conversation, and before he knew it, John Perlin had $125,000 and a list of names for donations

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Who knew how much interest … and generosity … the sale of a Mary Pratt painting would create for the Fluvarium?

Faced with financial woes that could have seen them close their doors for good, the Fluvarium decided it would be prudent to sell off “Bonfire”, a pastel completed in 1997 by the late Pratt who passed away on Aug. 14, 2018 at the age of 83.

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.

This would allow for the centre to pay off a few creditors and continue to serve the public as it has done for many years and in many ways.

So off “Bonfire” went to Toronto where it fetched $13,000, nearly $5,000 more than estimated in an auction at Consignor’s Spring Live Auction of Important Canadian Art on May 28 at the Gardiner Museum.

“This gave us enough money in the interim to ensure the stability of the operation,’’ John Perlin, chairman emeritus of the Fluvarium said Monday.

“There was enough interest generated that people came forward, a spontaneous reaction, of people wanting to help us out and before I knew it, about $125,000 was donated,’’ he added.

Perlin said his good friend Eleanor Gill Radcliffe gifted the Fluvarium $75,000 and he supplied the board of directors with a list of other names, contacts he is keeping to himself right now, but is certain he can reveal them in the future as their donations come in.

He told the board, you have the names, now go and see what you can do.

“We have been through crises here before, but not to this level,’’ he said.

“Our disaster, our financial crises were worse than we first thought, but through the sale, and the publicity the Mary Pratt generated, this led to a lot of doors opening for us, and for us to be able to keep the operation going,’’ he added.

Originally “Bonfire” 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 Suncor ended its relationship, resulting in the loss of funding for many programs.

Recent Stories