I begin a painting because of a strong emotional reaction or attachment to a situation. It takes so long to finish the painting that while I work, it is possible to create a whole mythology for it, and to conjecture about all sorts of psychological symbolism. Overriding everything is the desire to retain my original reaction.”- Bernice Vincent, Changes, Exhibition catalogue
Bernice Vincent, born in Woodstock, Ontario, was a widely recognized London-based artist. Vincent has depicted the London area in her paintings from multiple perspectives including numerous picturesque series of skylines and intimate views of her own daily circumstances. Her work often captured time as though frozen. These representations draw attention to the heavy temporality of seemingly insignificant moments, and the compelling richness of fleeting experiences.
In 1952, Vincent moved to London to attend H.B. Beal’s BEALART program. She later travelled on a scholarship to Mexico in 1954 to study painting, anatomy, watercolour, lithography, and fabric painting at Instituto Allende. The emphasis on abstraction in Mexico did not resonate with Vincent and when she returned to London she felt a need to develop a more individual sensibility in her art making.
She earned her place in London’s flourishing 1960s art scene with her ability to turn mundane everyday objects into realist paintings, often with a surrealist tone. Working with objects or landscapes from real life, rather than photographs, Vincent’s paintings required a long process of looking.
As a key figure in London’s cultural scene, Vincent helped establish one of the area’s first artist-run centres, Region Gallery, in 1962 and maintained an active presence in group and solo exhibitions at numerous galleries in town. It was between 1975 and 1979 that she established a name for herself with her first major solo exhibition held at Forest City Gallery.
In 2008, Vincent produced a large scale work for the 19th anniversary of the 1989 Montreal massacre to memorialize the fourteen women murdered in the tragic event. A retrospective of Vincent’s work was mounted at Museum London in 2013 titled Bernice Vincent: Time and Travels. The exhibition featured works from the 1970s up to 2013 situating Vincent as an important artist and contributor to London’s culture. Vincent passed way in 2016 at the age of 82. Her works are held in private and public collections in the region, including McIntosh Gallery, Museum London, the Canada Council Art Bank, Woodstock Art Gallery, and London Life. For more information, please visit her website.