The boat is a common subject that appears over and over in Christopher Pratt's work. Pratt has 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 is an avid boater and racer himself and this has had a great impact on his work. He says that "sailing on the ocean is an awe-inspiring experience; you sense the roundness of the world, feel open to the universe, unsheltered. It conditions your understanding of everything. The boat is an island on the sea with its onboard life-support systems, just as our planet is in space."
Pratt's first image of a boat was Boat in Sand (1961), which was selected for the National Gallery of Canada's Fourth Biennial Exhibition in 1961. Pratt said of the work, "I have always loved boats. When I was a boy, they were far more common, and far more important than cars. They said Newfoundland to me. I didn't intend this print as a symbol, but I did it at a time when it seemed to me that traditional and viable social structures were being systematically discredited in Newfoundland." Since this first boat image, the subject has appeared many times over the course of Pratt's career.
Another print called New Boat (1975), is very different from Boat in Sand (1961). Pratt says, "This print has less to do with sailing than with newness, that moment of possession: the boat - sleek, ruthless, and efficient, like a shark - hanging in the straps, ready to be lowered into the sea."
Boats also serve as a good example for Pratt's interest in drawing subjects "out of season." Pratt uses the example of a ball thrown in the air. Theoretically, at the apex, or the peak, of the ball's arc, it is still, moving neither up nor down.This is a moment Pratt often captures in his work. A boat out of the water, covered with a tarp, lifted in straps or stored in a shed. It is not fulfilling its purpose of being a sailing vessel. Instead, it is an entity in its own right, separate from its purpose.
is also very interested in and attracted to the shape of a boat out of
water. Like an iceberg, the most interesting part is hidden under the
water. It is only when a boat is not in the water that you are able to
see the keel and rudder or the shape that enables it to glide through