Fair winds Christopher Pratt

Boat Illustration

June 13, 2022

One of Canada’s most esteemed painter and printmakers, Newfoundland’s Christopher Pratt died last week at 86. In addition to his artistic talents, Pratt was a boater, and his love of boats and in particular C&C sailboats informed his work.

A fiercely proud Newfoundlander, Pratt famously designed the province’s flag, and was named to the Order of Canada in 1983 and awarded the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018.

Pratt’s highly distinctive work is widely celebrated but as a person who loves boats rather than an art critic, I was knocked over his takes on the series of C&C boats he captured. We’ve all seen “marine art” on clubhouse walls and over the bed in hotels, but to my mind no artist captured the grace and detail of the C&C keel in such a memorable way combining sublime artistry with a detailed appreciation of hull design.

Pratt had said that boats define part of what Newfoundland is to him. For most of its history, Newfoundland and Labrador has been dependent on, and linked to the fishery and the sea, and boats are an inevitable part of this. Pratt was an avid boater and racer himself and this has had a great impact on his work.

From the Mira Godard gallery site, here’s what Pratt said about the C&C 61 recorded in a 1988 print. “From that Spring day in 1972 when I first sniffed the resin inside Eric Bruckmann’s custom shop at C&C, I dreamed of owning a Custom ’61. It was a day-dream, and a persistent night-time dream as well; in that dream, we were always getting ready to put to sea; to slip our lines and be off into the pre-dawn hours. I have sailed in everything from Lasers to a ’43. I have never owned a ’61, so it remains a dream of glory. I found the thrill of sailing to be exponentially related to the size and power of the boat. The compass and cabin and running lights are coloured partly by hand, using Polychromos pencils.”


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