Elspeth Pratt’s sculptures demonstrate her interest in architecture and social spaces. She uses a variety of prosaic materials, from plywood to beverage containers, to comment on how architecture structures our lives. Throughout her career, she has shown an interest in public spaces such as shopping malls, gardens and train stations, as well as “pseudo-escapist” spaces such as spas, casinos and resorts. She has also explored airports and is interested in how they control our actions as we navigate them.
Her most recent sculptures, made of common building and impoverished materials, are precariously perched, sometimes leaning on a wall for support. These collage-like constructions include the space that surrounds them. Through a physical and involved working process, Pratt balances materials, ideas and space to formulate her work through a constant flow and accumulation of ideas. In addition, her use of common and readily available materials is contrasted with the permanence that is traditionally associated with sculpture. In this way, Pratt challenges assumptions about the inherent nature of her medium.
Pratt has shown nationally and internationally for three decades and her works are part of collections all over Canada. Recent exhibitions include Nonetheless at the Cooley Art Gallery in Portland, OR (2011) and Second Date, a large-scale public art project at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite (2011). Pratt is an Associate Professor and the Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University.