Jelly Shelf

Jelly Shelf

Mary Pratt

My only strength is finding something where most people would find nothing.
Mary Pratt

This is Jelly Shelf by Mary Pratt. Created in 1999, it’s one of the best-known works by the beloved Canadian painter — so iconic it was even on a stamp.

A photo of the artist Mary Pratt
Mary Pratt, photo taken by Ned Pratt
A realistic painting of four jars of coloured jellies sitting on a table with sunlight coming from behind.
Painting: Jelly Shelf, Mary Pratt, 1999

Born in New Brunswick, but based in Newfoundland for most of her five-decade career, the painter is celebrated for her highly realistic still lifes, capturing charged moments from her daily life. For Pratt, these simple domestic scenes, picturing the everyday work of cooking and cleaning, could be laden with special significance.

Here, Pratt has beautifully painted four jars of colourful jellies, glowing in the sunlight. But what is she really showing us?

What do you see first?

If you look carefully, there’s meaning and magic hiding all around us — even in a jar of jelly. Shall we take a closer peek?