Memories of Christopher Pratt

A classmate remembers the late artist
By: Dawn (Reid) MacNutt (’57)

Many things have been and will be written about Christopher, our wise and wickedly witty classmate. These are a few observations that describe how he was as a student, and how he retained his relationship with the University long after he left.

Christopher came from Newfoundland to study science/pre-med and joined the Class of ‘57. Despite his original plan, he was undeniably attracted to what was happening in the Owens Art Gallery, which housed the painting studios and the teachers in the Fine Arts department. During his visits there, Christopher’s passion and artistic talent was recognized and encouraged by teachers and students alike. 

Anecdotally, he was frequently observed sketching in his notebooks during classes. One day he was drawing beautiful fish in Prof. MacBeth’s French class. Perhaps aware of the distraction, MacBeth asked Chris to come up to the blackboard to write what he had just said in French. Chris went to the board, hesitated thoughtfully, and drew a magnificent rendering of a lovely large Newfoundland fish, and returned to his seat.

Prof. MacBeth, to his credit, said not a word as Chris returned to his seat. He carried on as though nothing had happened. And he didn’t erase the fish!

When the Class of ’57 was preparing for their Junior Prom in 1956, it was Chris and Mary West who supervised the conversion of the gym. With the theme of Brigadoon, the old gym in the off-campus foundry building became an epic theatre space. As well, Christopher’s and Mary’s romance came into full bloom.

The following year, they married and left for Scotland where Christopher had been accepted for art studies at the Glasgow School of Art. We were happy for them, but sorry to see them go... but that wasn’t the end of their Mount Allison story.

They began their family before returning to Sackville to complete their Fine Arts degrees over time. Chris graduated in 1961. However, he welcomed that the Class of ’57 claimed them as their own. 

The class, with Christopher’s and Mary’s blessings, established the Class of ’57 Mary (West) Pratt and Christopher Pratt Visiting Artist Project. Christopher and Mary came together to the reunion that launched the project, each contributing a lecture.

Though they lived apart later and each remarried briefly, there remained a strong bond of respect and affection that transcended all to the end.  

The warm connections Christopher made at MtA meant a lot to him, and he returned often in recent years. He was awarded an honorary degree in 1972 and his work is in the Owens Art Gallery’s permanent collection. 

We are blessed with the legacy of great memories... away back then, as well as recent times. He will live on in their four talented children John, Anne, Barbara, and Ned, and in their children. And in the art he left behind, which will continue to enrich our world for all of time.