As the title indicates, Carol Bishop-Gwyn’s book is a detailed excavation of the marriage of Mary (née West) and Christopher Pratt, primarily through the lens of their impressive bodies of work, with attentiveness to their respective prominent family backgrounds and traditions.
It is Bishop-Gwyn’s thesis that what started as two artists in a traditional marriage (for the time — they both agreed Christopher’s work came first; Mary handled everything at home) became a fierce, decades-spanning competition for achievements and fame fought through canvas, accolades and imagery.
They met in 1954 as students at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., married in 1957, and between 1958 and 1964 had four children.
They first lived in Glasgow, when he was studying, and spent a little time in St. John’s, where he was the first curator of the Memorial University of Newfoundland Art Gallery, but by the early 1960s were in St. Catherine’s, St. Mary’s Bay, where they raised their family and launched their careers.
He worked long regular shifts in his studio, she snatched half hours in the house during her busy days (she was a phenomenal homemaker).
From his student days, Christopher was a steadily rising star, championed by such figures as Lawren P. Harris, Edythe Goodridge and Mira Goddard; by the late 1960s she was steadily embarked on a course of local, national, and international respect and acclaim, whilst buoyed and framed by discourse of second wave feminism.
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